Joan Mari Torrealdai , PuntuEus Foundation president , Manuel Lekuona Award 2015
Joan Mari Torrealdai-Nabea (Forua, Bizkaia, Basque Country, 1942), sociologist, writer and Basque language loyalist, is set to receive the Manuel Lekuona Prize 2015 awarded by the Basque Studies Society (Eusko Ikaskuntza). In the words of the panel of judges, he has done tremendous work begun in the most difficult years and thereafter to promote the Basque language and Basque culture, and he has become “exemplary” and “referential” in society. In similar terms, it praised the cultural production of this Bizkaia-born writer and highlighted the fact that his CV coincides with the philosophy underpinning the prize: “Manuel Lekuona’s concern was not just to conduct research into the Basque language and culture but to make them survive, in other words, to give them the place they deserve in society, and Torrealdai coincides with that”.
Joan Mari Torrealdai is the Chairman of the PuntuEUS Foundation. He was the editor of the “Jakin” and “Anaitasuna” journals, and a member of the Editorial Board of the newspaper “Euskaldunon Egunkaria”, from the moment it was set up in 1990. He has worked as an essayist and journalist. After his essay “Iraultzaz” (On Revolution) (1973), he published a piece of sociological research on writers in the Basque language: “Euskal idazleak gaur” (Basque Writers Today).
After 1993 he compiled a catalogue of 20th-century Basque books. In 1997 he published a huge piece of sociological research into the situation of culture in the Basque language: “Euskal kultura gaur” (Basque Culture Today).
In 1998 he published “El libro negro del euskera” (The Black Book of Basque) dealing with the attacks endured by the Basque language over the centuries. That same year a biography that he had written was published: “Martin Ugalde. Andoaindik Hondarribira Caracasetik barrena” (Martin Ugalde, from Andoain to Hondarribia via Caracas). After writing “La censura de Franco y los escritores vascos del 98” (Franco’s censorship and Basque Writers of the 98th Generation) he won the Irun City Award in the category of essay for the work, “La censura de Franco y el tema vasco” (Franco’s Censorship and the Basque Issue) (1999).
In 2007 he was appointed as a full member of the Royal Academy of the Basque Language, and in 2011 he took over from Jose Antonio Arana-Martija (winner of the 2010 Manuel Lekuona Prize) to take charge of the Azkue Library of the Academy.
In 2010 he received the Lauaxeta Award given by the Chartered Provincial Council of Bizkaia for his work to explore and promote the Basque language.