Tuesday, August 16, 2011

José Luis Ortiz Nuevo's 'Pericón de Cadiz por Cantiñas' (Translation 2012 by John Moore)

José Luis Ortiz Nuevo
Translation of Pericón by John Moore! The marvelous book 'Mil y una historias de Pericón de Cadiz' will be available in English translation with the next year.

Ever since I was about 17 , I've had a fascination with the cantes de Cádiz and, in particular, with Pericón de Cádiz. It may be because he sang on the original Misa Flamenca - one of the few cante records I was able to find in the Bay Area during the early 70s, and which I committed to memory. Also, his stories, told in Donn Pohren's Lives and Legends of Flamenco, sparkled with gracia – I didn't know it at the time, but this was the famous gracia gaditana. Then, in 1975, I bought a book from a make-shift table outside a flamenco event in Madrid. I didn't realize that the man at the table was José Luis Ortiz Nuevo, but the book was the marvelous 'Mil y una historias de Pericón de Cádiz' ('A thousand and one stories of Pericón de Cádiz').

This book is a collection of Pericón's witty stories recorded and transcribed by Ortiz Nuevo. It takes the reader to the streets of Cádiz during the early 20th century and chronicles the gracia, fiestas, hunger, and terror of a period that spanned the end of Alfonso XIII's reign, the second republic, the civil war, and the Franco dictatorship - all through the eyes of a street-wise flamenco singer. There is history, culture, flamenco history, and lots of gracia - the book is a jewel on many different levels!

The 1975 edition fell out of print for many years, but was re-editied by Barataria Press in 2008, when it won the Deflamenco.com's 'best flamenco book' award.

I've treasured the book for years – re-reading it many times. A few years ago I decided to translate it to English – the stories themselves are fairly straight forward, but there is a wealth of historical and cultural information that most outside Spain (and many in Spain) might not be aware of. Hence, I bolstered the translation with copious footnotes and appendicies, explaining these references, short bios, and a glossary describing flamenco terms and places. In this way, the translation can serve as an introduction to flamenco or an introduction to Cádiz flamenco.

I've spent some time searching for a publisher – this is a bit of a niche book and represents a financial risk. However, Inverted-A Press (inverteda.com) agreed to take on the project, and while in Spain this July, I took the bus from Cádiz to Sevilla to meet with Ortiz Nuevo and sign the translation contract.

The expected release date is sometime in 2012 – the bicentennial of Spain's constitution, which was signed in Cádiz – stay tuned for more information.

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