José Irazu Garmendia, the real name of Bernardo Atxaga, was born in 1951 in Asteasu, Guipúzcoa. His work, which includes novels, stories, poetry and essays, has been written and published entirely in Basque, but also translated into several languages. He holds a degree in economics from the University of Bilbao and another in arts from the University of Barcelona. He has been a full member of the Royal Academy of the Basque Language since 2006, and also of the Jakiunde, the Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters. In 1976, he wrote his first novel, Ziutateaz, and in 1978, the poetry collection Etiopia.
He always writes in Basque as part of his struggle against political oppression. In 1988, he published his best-known work, Obabakoak, which has been translated into twenty-six languages and was awarded the National Narrative Prize in 1989. In 2003, he published Soinujolearen semea. After completing the “Obaba” series, in 2005 he published Lekuak and in 2007, Markak: Gernika 1937, a compilation of reflections on the Nazi bombing of Guernica. In 2009, his novel Zazpi etxe Frantzian was published simultaneously in Basque, Spanish, Catalan and Galician, and in 2013 he published Nevadako diaak, which won the 2014 Critics Award. He has been awarded prizes such as the Donostiako Hiria (1979 and 1983), the National Narrative Prize (1989), the Euskadi Prize for Literature (1989, 1991, 1996 and 1997) and the Critics Prize (1978, 1985, 1988, 1993, 2003 and 2014), among many others.
Bernardo Atxaga received the 2017 LiberPress Literature Award for all his literary works created with originality, richness, sensitivity and ingenuity, in which he has treated with both tenderness and firmness such issues as the Civil War, ETA, the democratic transition, and the life of the Basque country‘s distinctive, hardworking rural community, insisting on collective social memory, with tolerance, humanity, kindness and courage, and also for his defence of the Basque language and culture. He is a unique writer who has won the attention of readers of all languages and cultures with a diverse literature committed to the values of freedom and human dignity.