Dynamic Woman — Changing Times
Book Review: Zelestina Urza in Outer Space
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Author and poet David Romtvedt details the immigrant experience of an unremarkable Basque woman’s journey. In doing so, he draws a larger point. Merely because we exist on planet Earth, we are remarkable.
Romtvedt writes “…the human world we’ve made often ends up diminishing our humanity.” This is not true of Zelestina. She is as fully human as Adam and Eve. Like them, she will find the strength to live out her days in alien territory. In this case, the foreign land is Wyoming.
Due to displacement, Zelestina’s life becomes a frontier experience. Through literary devices–poetry and historical/theological musing–the author explores the larger context of such a life. But he is most effective when he peers through her eyes.
With a sense of wonder, the author shows us how a young girl develops the resources to survive. He reveals Zelestina’s lasting bond with an American Indian woman whose life history mirrors hers. The two women join forces to seek protection against a violent and clumsy hunter who haunts them.
Thomas Teague represents a predator who pursues them in life and in death. Who is the true predator? The author explores the historical and spiritual roots that connect two cultures. He questions life’s mysteries. Appropriately, he does not propose answers. Instead, he mourns an old woman’s ignoble passing with respect and affection.
Center for Basque Studies
This book is part of the Center for Basque Studies, University of Nevada, Reno’s Basque Originals series. Publishing fiction is a new venture for the center. Their mission is to keep Basque culture alive in hearts and minds of a people spread out around the world. I only know this because I chose a Basque heritage for the protagonist of my debut novel, The Sheep Walker’s Daughter. It will be published as a Basque Originals in the spring.
Look for vibrant cultural histories in cultural centers, universities, museums, and national parks. Often they make fiction available in their bookstores. You will find little gems like Zelestina Urza in Outer Space.
© Sydney Avey