23.04.2018 - 29.04.2018
Azkuna Zentroa is holding the 11th edition of Gutun Zuria, the Bilbao International Literature Festival from the 23rd to the 29th of April. The theme chosen for this new edition of Gutun Zuria has a twofold objective. On the one hand, to pay tribute to a great thinker, Henry David Thoreau, whose bicentenary was commemorated in 2017. And on the other, to propose a new way of living, resulting from the naturalistic doctrine of this thinker. Something reminiscent of the mythical Eden of our former parents.
Thoreau is the indisputable pioneer of the current environmental groups. His pioneering proposal has to do with the creation of an environmental awareness and the need to return to life in communion with natural wilderness. His ideas set the standards to follow, and both himself and his followers go far beyond the fight for the conservation of nature, and likewise seek a spiritual dimension therein. The natural man pursues ideals of purity which concern individual freedom and pureness of heart. The prevailing economic doctrines in contemporary societies are prone, conversely, to accumulation and useless spending, which has nothing to do with real wealth.
The greatest contemporary legacy of this utopian thinker has permeated as inspiration in a large group of writers who are currently grouped under the name of ‘Nature Writing’, trumpeted as a literary trend. These creators have made Thoreau’s philosophy their purpose for writing and, like him, were secluded for two years in a forest to live alone, in communion with nature. They have dedicated years of their lives to the study of the conservation of species, to the defence and protection of indigenous tribes, to explore the rivers and the trees, to recover the life of bees… And they have told it in extraordinary and poignant books which are life models.
Many of these writers will play a major role in the Bilbao International Literature Festival. On the opening day we will address the chosen theme, the conservation of nature and our relationship with her, from literature and science. The event will be attended by the writer Manuel Rivas, the anthropologist Eudald Carbonell and the neurobiologist and philosopher Stefano Mancuso.
In both his literary and civic activities, Rivas, founding member of Greenpeace, has distinguished himself as an advocate for his defence of sustainable livelihoods. In his latest book, entitled Elogio del futuro, Carbonell reflects on the actions that will result in a better adaptation of the human being to the challenges of evolution. Finally, Stefano Mancuso, author of works such as Plant Revolution, will talk about the plant behaviour intelligence and what we can learn from them.
Arriving at Gutun Zuria from Norway is Lars Mytting, who left Oslo to live in contact with the trees and explore the bounties of wood from an essential proposal; and Maja Lunde, a young Norwegian woman bent on discovering the secrets of beekeeping through poetic and wonderful stories in a world where bees have already disappeared. The event will also be attended by the critical voice of the American and environmental activist Terry Tempest Williams who at some point in her biography also defended Doñana as a natural park…
Similarly attending this year will be Bernardo Atxaga, Hasier Larretxea, Ixiar Rozas and Maider López, notable literature and art figures in the Basque Country, in whose works we can find guidelines for debate on the relationship between our society and nature, often so very conflicting and contradictory.
Subjects regarding the mountains, the great sports, or recreational and social scene in the Basque Country, could not be omitted from this year´s Gutun Zuria either. In what proportion can the mountains be literary? How can we examine mountains through the literary perspective? We will hear from Aingeru Epaltza and Juanra Madariaga how the freedom of the mountains and the uniqueness of its countless stories have been a fertile breeding ground for their stories.
César Aira, a must needed clog of contemporary Latin American literature, will bring this Festival to a close. The public will be able to learn more about this prolific writer, lover of paradox and conceptual games, who has the rare ability to smash the expectations of those who read his works.