The Adventures and Misadventures of the Extraordinary and Admirable Joan Orpí, Conquistador and Founder of New Catalonia

Max Besora, trans. from the Catalan by Mara Faye Lethem. Open Letter, $17.95 trade paper (400p) ISBN 978-1-948830-24-9
Dark humor, history, fiction, and misadventures collide in Spanish writer Besora’s wildly imaginative and irreverent English-language debut. The book chronicles the life of Joan Orpí, a lesser known Spanish conquistador born in 1593 who founded New Barcelona in Venezuela and the short-lived Province of New Catalonia. A fast-paced account that drags its protagonist through dozens of encounters, places, and misfortunes, in chapters that begin with Cervantes-esque summaries (“In which young Orpí sees a circus show and decides he will become a knight-errant”), this tale brings together a dash of truth with the author’s reimagining of Orpís’s exploits. Drama, unbelievable escapades, copious footnotes, and comedy blend together seamlessly, and they make Orpís’s life one of the most remarkable in contemporary literature. The language is a mixture of 16th-century English (Catalan in the original) and contemporary slang that imbues the dialogue with relentless wittiness: “Years of study and thou still be the same nincompoop as ever! And wherefor art thou going, dressed as a pansy? Now I seeth whichfore thou never married... thou art a right pouf!” Songs, poems, and a plethora of art enrich the various episodes with a sense of place and time. This raunchy, foulmouthed, and hilarious story brilliantly inhabits the space between novel and biography. (Jan.)
Reviewed on : 10/29/2020
Release date: 01/12/2021
Genre: Fiction
Open Ebook - 978-1-948830-29-4
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