June 17, 2021

The writer Juan José Mendoza presents ‘On the banks of the Guiniguada’, a laminated novel about Bishop Antonio Pildain


Bishop Pildain surrounded by children

Bishop Pildain surrounded by children

The influence exercised by the Basque Bishop Antonio Pildain in the social, political and religious life of the Canary Islands from 1937 to 1966, the year in which he voluntarily retired, remains beyond doubt. The Gran Canaria writer Juan José Mendoza, who obtained second prize in the Benito Pérez Galdós International Novel Prize last year 2020 with the title On the banks of the Guiniguada, Inspired by the figure of the aforementioned bishop, he presents, a year later, said text that has taken the form of a book whose edition is provided by the Mercurio publishing house. Access to the presentation of the book is with entry until full capacity is reached and direct registration through the Insular Library.

On the banks of the Guiniguada It will be presented on May 26, at 6.30 p.m., in the Insular Library of the Cabildo Gran Canaria, in an act in which the author of the volume, Juan José Mendoza, and the professors of Spanish Language and Literature, Felipe García Landín will be present. and Eduardo Perdomo de la Guardia. On the lights and shadows of Antonio Pildain Mendoza’s fictional fiction is built that does not neglect fidelity to an era and some terrible events that affected so many Spaniards. Hand in hand with a narrative voice close to the bishop, the story goes deeper, as in an altarpiece, in the most pomegranate episodes in which it acquired a relevant role. Franco’s repression, misery and enormous inequality in the post-war period, Franco’s visit to the Canary Islands or the fate of El Corredera are, among others, chapters that integrate the convulsed life of the aforementioned bishop, to which are added his multiple interventions in the administration of the morality of the canaries and the canaries. Special mention receives in the novel the treatment of his relationship with the work and the person of Galdós, with whom the bishop always had serious disagreements and whom he reproached for his manifest anti-clericalism.

Fresh, immersive and entertaining writing

The writer uses real and imagined characters in his story. From the figure of Rafael Vera, secretary of the bishop during his years on the island, Mendoza builds the story that other illustrious people of the time go through, such as Antonio Limiñana, a personal friend of the bishop, the president of the Cabildo Matías Vega Guerra, the Del family Castillo, notable people from the cultural sphere who frequented the historic Bar Polo such as Víctor Doreste and popular figures such as Andrés El Ratón.

“Pildain collided countless times with what he described as the ‘cabal’ of the capital of Gran Canaria. His pastorals were always on the side of the most disadvantaged and that carried an implicit message critical of the Franco regime and the wealthy class of Gran Canaria. At no time did he detach himself from the Vatican doctrine, which gave him a series of fundamental supports before the Franco regime at the most critical moments, especially when he did not open the cathedral to the Caudillo. That unconditional adherence to the papal encyclicals are his defense, “says Mendoza.

“In the social sphere, he took interesting steps because he implies the social aspect in the formation of seminarians, something that was not included in this way in the seminary”, affirms the author of On the banks of the Guiniguada. “I did not want the book to be contaminated with my point of view on the position of the island’s oligarchy so as not to distort my objective of portraying that time. That is why in the structure of the novel there is a final chapter dedicated to ‘The others’, in which I try to maintain a distance with statements that I get from the press of the time, some converted by me, so that the positions that some had against Pildain had their argument. Not just loyalty to the regime. For example, some reproached him for coming to lead the social aid when they understood that they had been doing it for many years on the island. That is why they censor the bank for the poor ”, says the writer.

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