Some reviewers have noted that it’s not necessary to know anything about the Basque conflict to get a sense of it from this novel. Taken to its logical conclusion this is a dangerous proposition. I want the story of the Basque people told, and all sides of it. But there are better ways of telling it – and they are being told in better ways: see, for example, Katixa Agirre’s Atertu arte itxaron (2015; Wait until it clears) or Joseba Sarrionandia’s Lagun Izoztua (2001; My frozen friend), both of which are crying out for an English translation. And yet these stories are not being translated, let alone turned into a television series. Maybe we should ask ourselves why.
Homeland is a brutal, austere novel, broad in psychological and moral scope, about the human toll of the long, dirty war between the Spanish state and the Basque pro-independence group Eta... Aramburu is a captivating writer despite his tics. Few books make me cry these days but by the final page I found my eyes prickling with tears. By examining his society in such close detail, Aramburu encourages us to reflect on the bitter divisions in our own world and the opportunities we have for reconciliation. The people we learn most about in Homeland are ourselves.