in ,

José Antonio Ortega: “Over time, you realize only stupid people never change their minds”

Rosario Pérez | Photos: Fran Montes, ReachExtra

Los Barrios journalist and author José Antonio Ortega has recently published 20 years’ worth of his articles in his latest book “Opiniones de un payaso (con permiso de Heinrich Böll)” (“Opinions of a clown (with apologies to Heinrich Böll)”, published by Ediciones Dauro.

José Antonio Ortega Opiniones de un payaso con permiso de Heinrich Böll

Everything in life has a good and bad side, and the months of lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic proved to be an especially productive time for many creatives, artists, musicians and writers. This was especially true for Los Barrios writer and journalist José Antonio Ortega, who has just published his 6th book together with Ediciones Dauro, under the humourous title: “Opinions of a clown (with apologies to Heinrich Böll)”.

His book is a 600-page collection, largely made up of articles written by Ortega over the last 20 years, which the author says was written on a “small whim”, but also due to necessity:

“I had always wanted to create a compilation of my articles at some point, but I could never find the time to go through my archives and select pieces… and then the pandemic arrived and I realised that I couldn’t delay this any longer.”

Officially launched on the 17th of December during an event at the ‘Coronista de la Villa Library’ in Los Barrios (with all Covid safety measures in place), the book begins with an event which marked the watershed of the 21st Century: the attack on the Twin Towers in New York on September 11th, 2001 – which he says, “impacted everyone”.

José Antonio Ortega Opiniones de un payaso con permiso de Heinrich Böll
“Opiniones de un payaso (con permiso de Heinrich Böll)” – José Antonio Ortega | Photo: ©Fran Montes, ReachExtra

From this point, José Antonio Ortega’s book becomes a review of many of the significant historical events which have taken place in Spain and throughout the world in the last two decades. These include controversial issues like ETA, the economic crisis, the “procés Catalan” and Brexit. As the editorial warns, the book combines “irony and self-confidence with the occasional touch of scholarly and academic perspectives”.

The book addresses a diverse range of topics distributed in different “sections”, as you would expect from a traditional newspaper: National and International Politics, Europe, Economy, Society, Culture etc…

According to the author, making the selections for articles to be published was no easy task because “one is not the same person at 30 as they are at 50, and when you review what you’ve written, you’ll notice you had opinions that have inevitably changed along with your life experiences… even parenthood changes your perspective and sensitivity about different things, and makes you question approaches that you previously thought were solid. In addition, a columnist always has to write from a place of humility. As time goes by, you realise that the phrase ‘stupid people never change their mind’ is true.”

Heinrich Boll: one of Germany’s foremost post–World War II writers

Between Journalism, History and Literature

José Antonio Ortega is a journalist who studied at the Complutense University of Madrid, and then graduated in Political Science and Sociology from UNED and is a strong ‘Europeanist’. Currently, Ortega works at the Los Barrios City Council Press Office, and has been an editor and co-director at several publications as well as writing and editing historical compilation texts and memoirs for well-known figures in the Campo de Gibraltar.

José Antonio Ortega Opiniones de un payaso con permiso de Heinrich Böll
“Opiniones de un payaso (con permiso de Heinrich Böll)” – José Antonio Ortega | Photo: ©Fran Montes, ReachExtra

To date, he has published compilations of short stories entitled “Return Trip” (1996) as well as four novels: “El clan de los ilusos” (Publicaciones del sur, 1999); “The Kingdom of the Sirens” (Ediciones Atlantis, 2011); “El Secreto de los Balbo” (Editorial GoodBooks, 2016) and “El Sueño de Tánato” (Editorial GoodBooks, 2019), as well as stories and poems for magazines and anthologies.

Ortega, author of “Opinions of a clown (with the permission of Heinrich Böll)”, is now preparing to publish another book:

“From Algeciras to Ksar Achbarou”; an adventure and mystery spy novel which takes place in Morocco (a country which the journalist knows well, where he has even ended up weaving family ties), which takes the reader to the threshold of the Sahara Desert, with autobiographical overtones.

Sahara Desert

“Although it is a work of fiction, it is without a doubt the most personal of all my novels, starting with the protagonist who is a lot like me”, who during the hardest times of his life (which will undoubtedly be addressed in another book) earned a living at a funeral home; “travelling thousands of kilometres across the Strait to transport corpses to families who were waiting for them on the other shore. But, as I said, that is for another story.”

What do you think?