LALT No. 14

Number 14

The fourteenth issue of Latin American Literature Today features dossiers dedicated to the dislocated writing of Latin American authors based in the United States and the gothic fiction of Mariana Enriquez, plus reflections on writing in a second language by Fabio Morábito, an interview with 2019 Alfaguara Prize winner Patricio Pron, and...

Writing in a foreign language or writing in one’s own language in a foreign country is not a new phenomenon. Choosing the language in which one writes has implications not only for the writing itself...

Leaving home for another country. Writing from somewhere other than home. How does this influence one’s writing? An Argentine-born writer of English descent on her father’s side and French on her mother’s side, Sylvia Molloy has produced most of her fictional and critical writing in the United States, where she has made her home for several...

From the beginning, Lina Meruane was above all a voice. Better said: a rhythm. As much in Seeing Red, the first novel of hers that I read, as in our first conversation—a rainy afternoon in New York, if I remember correctly—what was most left etched in my memory was the cadence of her words. The way they had of not only meaning something but...

Carlos Yushimito had lost his glasses the day I met him. It was January or February in 2011 and we’d been invited to speak at a literary event in a still cold and gray New York. We spent hours wandering through neighborhoods new to both of us (I a Bolivian descendent of Palestinians, he a Peruvian descendent of Japanese, both of us weary grad...

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Fiction

Pelicans

An archer wished to shoot the moon. Night after night, tirelessly, he sent his arrows flying toward the celestial body. The neighbors began to mock him. Unmoved, he continued firing his arrows. He never shot the moon, but he did become the greatest archer in the world.

Puerto Natales

Leaning on the starboard rail, the sailor seemed to be waiting for someone. In his left hand he held a white paper wrapping, with grease stains in several places. In his other hand he held his pipe. A young, slim man appeared from between some coaches. He halted a moment, looked to the sea and then moved on, walking along the edge of the pier with...

Aída Bortnik

Theirs was a tempestuous love. They had cried entire nights, because of one another. They had hugged and kissed, they had bitten and hit, they had laughed, they had deceived, they had forgiven, they had understood, they had reproached. They had grown together, learning from one another. Together they had endured humiliation, failure, pain,...

Interviews

Lucrecia Zappi

Brazilian author and journalist Lucrecia Zappi was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1972 but she spent her childhood and adolescence in São Paulo and Mexico City. Zappi is the author of two novels in Portuguese, Black Jaguar (2013) and Acre (2017). Her novels explore mythical worlds with vast geographies and primitive...

Daniel Salinas Basave

Author of Bajo la luz de una estrella muerta [Under the light of a dead star] (FOEM, 2015–Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz International Prize), Días de whisky malo [Days of bad whisky] (2016), Vientos de Santa Ana [Winds of Santa Ana] (2016), Predrag (2016), Dispárenme como a Blancornelas [Shoot me like Blancornelas] (...

Patricio Pron

To read Patricio Pron is to be in the company of a multifaceted writer with a broad trajectory as both storyteller and literary critic. His work has been translated into a half-dozen languages, including English, German, French, and Italian. All this becomes clear when talking with him about his work, along with his ability to conceive literature...

Essays

Medellín, Colombia

In 2018, I translated Julianne Pachico’s collection of short stories The Lucky Ones (2017, published in Spanish as Los afortunados by Seix Barral in 2019). The book follows a diverse group of characters that share the experience of having lived in Colombia in the 80s and 90s, amid the violent political and civil unrest generated by...

Fabio Morábito

Four years ago I published a book of poems, in one of which the following lines can be read: “Given that I write in a language / I learned, / I need to awaken / when others sleep.” Later, in the same poem, this same idea is reiterated in other words: “I write before dawn, / when I am almost the only one awake / and I can make mistakes / in a...

Octavio Paz

Austin, TX, February 8, 1981. Haroldo de Campos took the mescaline of himself. He was coming out of a bender on Lavaca Street, where Texan poets praised him with ganha whistles. Then, after exhausting hours of work, he created his translation of Blanco, a poem by Octavio Paz. It was a spring nourished by encounters, friendships,...

Poetry

Merry-Go-Round

Where is it now, / the box that’s missing / from the inventory we never took? / In the moving truck? In some dark and hidden / corner  / of the closet we inspected one last time / and took for bare?

Chevy Bel Air

You bought your cousin’s / Chevrolet Belair ‘56 / next you had a Pontiac Chief Star ‘55 / two doors / you sold it to your brother / in law because he had just started working / in the public works department

Mérida, Venezuela

Look, tombs. / No, they are bodies. / No, they are dead forms of memory. / No, they are tired forms of memory. // Look, epitaphs. / No, they are poems. / No, they are tombstones with familiar names. / No, they are voices. / No, they are words being laid to rest.

Editor’s Pick

Soliloquios/Ciudad de fuego

Shortly before passing away in October of 2018, Edgardo Rivera Martínez submitted to his publishing house this excellent volume of tales composed of four novellas. Three of them—Ciudad de Fuego [City of fire], Un Viejo Señor en la Neblina [An old man in the mist], and El Visitante [The visitor]—appeared in a single...

Diario en ruinas

In Diario en ruinas (1998-2017) [Diary in ruins (1998-2017)], Ana Teresa Torres recounts the vicissitudes of Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution, tracking its imprints upon her personal life. This book captures the unusual times that transformed both the novelist’s country and her life. Through the diarist’s voice, which blends historical and...

Lyric Poetry Is Dead

For many years, attempts were made to define what has been conceptualized in Latin American contemporary poetry as neobaroque, given that the atypical trends within this last concert of voices have been limited to strange and countercanonical manifestations. I will not stress this problem in this brief commentary; instead, I will list some of the...

Indigenous Literature

Xun Betan

Our language speaks from the heart / we have ch'ulel and we fly in dreams. / We sing with the wind and laugh with the clouds / we plant the corn and harvest the tortillas. // When I am happy my heart blossoms / sorrow is my heart torn in pieces. / When I am sick the pain surges from my heart / when we fight we seek peace in the heart.

Bird graffiti, Cartagena

When the wind’s mouth arches like a bird of time, / filtered by cracks in the mysteries, / I hear a drumbeat growing on the wings of a memory / that fills the sails of thoughts from out of the blue silence, / illuminated with memory’s shadows, / flashing through the inner night I carry. 

Jarol Segura Rivera

When you call me / I’ll go, get into the boat  / that waits to carry me across those waters / that drag away everything in their path. // The day you call me / my soul will rejoice, / taking on the colors of the mountains and the rivers, / singing a brilliant song / on a mountain of the sun’s rays.