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Readings, Conversations & Parties with Alejandro Zambra

There are a number of reasons I’m disappointed to be missing BEA this year . . . I’d love to see how this mid-week idea works out (or fails), I’d love to see who actually shows up (or doesn’t), love to see all my friends (hello!), and would love to be able to attend all the various events we’re co-hosting to celebrate the launch of Alejandro Zambra’s The Private Lives of Trees.

And yes, the book is now available. The official pub date is in July, but we got it printed way early so that we could have copies available for his visit. Bonsai — which Melville House published a couple years back, and which was a finalist for the 2009 Best Translated Book Award — is one of my favorite books from recent years, and Private Lives, which is a bit different, maybe not quite as tight, is pretty amazing as well. There’s something about the directness of his writing that I absolutely love. It’s beyond honest in a way that I find really compelling.

Just check out the opening paragraphs from the two books:

In the end she dies and he remains alone, although in truth he was along some years before her death, Emilia’s death. Let’s say that she is called or was called Emilia and that he is called, was called, and continues to be called Julio. Julio and Emilia. In the end Emilia dies and Julio does not die. The rest is literature: (Bonsai)

and

Julian lulls the little girl to sleep with “The Private Lives of Trees,” an ongoing story he’s made up to tell her at bedtime. The protagonists are a poplar tree and a baobab tree, who, at night, when no one can see them, talk about photosynthesis, squirrels, or the many advantages of being trees and not people or animals or, as they put it themselves, stupid hunks of cement. (The Private Lives of Trees)

One of the best places for more info on Zambra, his reception in Chile, etc., is this article by Marcela Valdes that appeared in The Nation last June. (One interesting tidbit I found out in Torino last week is that Zambra has finished his third novel . . . Don’t know much about it, except that it’s supposedly more substantial than these two.)

And bringing this all full-circle, if you’re going to be in New York for BEA next week, you should check out one (or more) of these events:

Monday, May 24th @ 7:30pm
Greenlight Bookstore (686 Fulton Street)
Celebration of Melville House’s Art of the Novella Series=
Zambra will read with Lore Segal, Margarita Shalina (yay!), and Ian Dreiblatt

Tuesday, May 25th @ 7:00pm
192 Books (192 10th Ave.)
Reading and conversation with Zambra and his translator, Megan McDowell

Wednesday, May 26th @ 1:30pm
BEA Author Stage
This panel on New Spanish Translations will be moderated by Adriana Lopez and will also feature Elvira Lindo and Juan Gómez Jurado

Thursday, May 27th @ 7:00pm
Melville House Books (145 Plymouth St, at Pearl St)
Book Launch Party



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