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


by Max Besora

January 12, 2021
novel | pb | 400 pgs
5.5" x 8.5"

“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

Joan Orpí (Piera, 1593–New Barcelona, 1645) is one of the most unknown, yet fascinating, 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 that is fresh, sharp, and bursting with exuberant adventures.

A triumphant, playful masterpiece brought into a unique style of English thanks to the astonishing creativity of translator Mara Faye Lethem.

Translated from the Catalan by Mara Faye Lethem


About the Author: Max Besora started his career as a poet, and has since gone on to publish three novels, including Volcano and The Adventures and Misadventures of the Extraordinary and Admirable Joan Orpi, Conquistador and Founder of New Catalonia, which received the 2018 City of Barcelona Prize for Catalan Literature. He also plays trumpet in a jazz band and is currently co-writing a non-fiction book about rap music.

About the Translator: 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.


Praise for Max Besora:

“Dark humor, history, fiction, and misadventures collide in Spanish writer Besora’s wildly imaginative and irreverent English-language debut. . . . Drama, unbelievable escapades, copious footnotes, and comedy blend together seamlessly, and they make Orpí’s life one of the most remarkable in contemporary literature.”
Publishers Weekly, starred review

Besora delivers a delightful parody of the conquistadors’ reports of old, peppered with all manner of goofiness, from songs with lyrics such as “For we art the hardy foes / of abstemia & anemia” to a pseudo-Renaissance vocabulary that will make a language lover smile. Utterly improbable—and utterly delightful.”
Kirkus, starred review

“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

“Joan Orpí mixes tomfoolery and satire, lampooning so many sacred cows, including empire, history, religion, and literature. Besora’s prose is the real star, merging language of yore with modern day slang. Boisterous, bright, freewheeling, and playful, The Adventures and Misadventures of the Extraordinary and Admirable Joan Orpí, Conquistador and Founder of New Catalonia, put simply, is a shit-tonne of fun.”
—Jeremy Garber, Powell’s Books

“Flagrant, shameless, high-voltage, and sometimes just consummately silly. I can’t think of another translator who could have pulled this off, but like any great writer who feels they have total license to do whatever the hell they want with their language, Lethem creates what the narrator describes as ‘a language that constitutes the topography of its own world’, not striving for an accurate period reconstruction, but an archaism that’s invented, anachronistic, bastardised, defiantly inconsistent and totally, gloriously fun.”—Daniel Hahn

“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