Famous all over town

This has been a busy week for sultan “Yildirim” Bayezid. His image, paired with mine, was plastered all over Carboneras, Mojácar and all the way to Vera, to announce my readings from the novel about his last great adventure on earth, A Gift for the Sultan. If he is watching from Paradise, it will no doubt seem less than his magnificence deserves, but it is more attention than he has received in Spain in the past six centuries.

For our Spanish friends in Carboneras, Susana and I translated the introductory scene and another chapter to present in the town's library. The place was packed for the reading Thursday night, S.R.O., more people than the library had hosted for any other event in memory — just shows you how people still care about old Yildirim ("Thunderbolt"). Now they want a Spanish translation of the whole book; I do too, but I'm not about to do it. It would be a big and challenging job.

Then on Friday, the sultan filled the presentation room of the Nobel bookstore in Vera for a reading in English to folks who don't require translation, and several of them bought the book.

All this in the same week that I was interviewed by that Turkish radio program in San Francisco. 

Do you remember this book? The young Chicano who wrote it turned out to be a 72-year old non-Chicano playwright, Daniel Lewis James, but that's another story, a sad and funny one — sad because James had been so damaged by being blacklisted from the theater, which was his life, that when he years later dared to take up the pen again, he could manage only under a pen name. Funny, because after years of community work in East Los Angeles, he got the voice of the young Chicano so right that he fooled all the critics. In the novel, the young hero — frustrated by being treated as a nobody all his life — finally makes himself famous all over town by writing his name in big letters on all the billboards. And Daniel James did it by writing as Danny Santiago.

I was thinking of Danny and Daniel as our friends Hazel and David Jones (many thanks, from me and the sultan) put up those posters all over Carboneras, Mojácar and Vera.

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