With the sort of ribaldry and salacity that would have made even de Sade blush, Max Besora’s The Adventures and Misadventures of the Extraordinary and Admirable Joan Orpí, Conquistador and Founder of New Catalonia, is, by far, the most hilarious book I’ve read in years. A quasi-historical, self-referential picaresque tale, Besora’s novel of unbridled imagination brims with bawdiness, jokes, witticisms, entendres, lampoons, send-ups, satire, and parody aplenty. While nary a chapter is suitable for the faint of heart or easily offended, Besora’s prose (in stunning translation by Mara Faye Lethem) merges remarkably the language of yore with modern-day slang. If irreverence were an art form, this would be a master class. Recommended By Jeremy G., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
A faux-historical romp about a real-life conquistador who founded New Catalonia in the wilds of Venezuela.
Joan Orpí (Piera, 1593 - New Barcelona, 1645) is one of the most unknown characters in Spanish history. In this torrential book we are told the odyssey that brought him first to Barcelona, later to Sevilla and finally to America, where he would experience all kinds of outlandish situations.
Using historical facts as raw material, and with stellar appearances of characters such as Miguel de Cervantes or the brigand Serrallonga among others, Besora converses with the satirical tradition of works such as Gargantua and Pantagruel, Gulliver's Travels or Don Quixote, to paint a fresco of Catalonia in the seventeenth century and the Golden Age of the Spanish empire, creating a novel, fresh, sharp, and bursting with exuberant adventures.
A triumphant, playful masterpiece brought into a unique style of English thanks to the triumphant creativity of translator Mara Faye Lethem.
“If Cervantes and the Monty Python guys were shoved into the Large Hadron Collider — and Earth didn't explode — we might get something like Joan Orpí. How lucky are we to be alive! And to have Max Besora!” Ryan Chapman, author of Riots I Have Known
“Like Don Quixote, this is a chivalric novel, seasoned with the humor of an author with wit in spades. Besora grew up with the toxic style of the great US underground cartoonists, the ‘Weirdo’ gang, and you can tell.” Time Out
“An heir to Rabelais, Cervantes, Sterne and Swift, Besora has conceived his novel as a giant neo-baroque container with room for everything and more besides. The combination of events, registers, genres and characters is manic in its variety.” Pere Antoni Pons, Ara
“This novel is here to atone for a glaring oversight in the history of Catalan literature, reviving a tradition that has seemed all but dead since the time of Tirant lo Blanc, since any language deserves, at the very least, two great satirical novels; and this one is so Catalan it hurts.” Montserrat Serra, Vila Web
About the Author
After starting his career as a poet, Max Besora has gone on to publish three novels, including Volcano and The Adventures and Misadventures of the Extraordinary and Admirable Joan Orpi, Conquerer and Founder of Catalonia, which received the 2018 City of Barcelona Prize for Catalan Literature. He's a jazz trumpeter and is currently co-writing a non-fiction book about rap music.
Mara Faye Lethem has translated novels by Jaume Cabré, David Trueba, Albert Sánchez Piñol, Javier Calvo, Patricio Pron, Marc Pastor and Toni Sala, among others, and shorter fiction by such authors as Juan Marsé, Rodrigo Fresán, Pola Oloixarac, Teresa Colom and Alba Dedeu. Her translation of The Whispering City, by Sara Moliner, recently received an English PEN Award and two of her translations were nominated for the 2016 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.