I recently came across this website and it is unlike anything I imagine exists in the US. The Buenos Aires government, along with other European and Latin American cities, has a specific department for the development and preservation of the arts. Part of their work is the creation of The Buenos Aires Audiovisual Archive of Writers, a center in both the physical space of the city and in cyberspace.
The site offers a ton of information about Argentinean writers and the literary scene in Buenos Aires. I suggest browsing the section of probably fifty writers’ top ten books as well as their Quicktime snippets about why they choose each book. The writers appear to be in their own personal libraries or living rooms as they discuss their favorite works.
For Spanish speakers these are interesting little videos but for English speakers, click the British flag in the corner of the home page for an English translation of the entire website. While they don’t dub the video clips into English or add subtitles, the rest of the website has a lot of useful information about writers in Latin America.
Linn Ullmann’s The Cold Song, her fifth novel, is built much like the house about which its story orbits: Mailund, a stately white mansion set in the Norwegian countryside a few hours drive from Oslo. The house, nestled into the. . .
Karel Schoeman’s Afrikaans novel, This Life, translated by Else Silke, falls into a genre maybe only noticed by the type of reader who tends toward Wittgenstein-type family resemblances. The essential resemblance is an elderly narrator, usually alone—or with one other. . .
In Joris-Karl Hyusmans’s most popular novel, À rebours (Against Nature or Against the Grain, depending on the which translated edition you’re reading), there is a famous scene where the protagonist, the decadent Jean des Esseintes, starts setting gemstones on the. . .
There are books that can only wisely be recommended to specific types of readers, where it is easy to know who the respective book won’t appeal to, and Kristiina Ehin’s Walker on Water is one these. What makes this neither. . .
Imagine the most baroque excesses of Goethe, Shakespeare, and Poe, blended together and poured into a single book: That is The Nightwatches of Bonaventura. Ophelia and Hamlet fall in love in a madhouse, suicidal young men deliver mournful and heartfelt. . .
In 1899, Maurice Ravel wrote “Pavane pour une infante défunte” (“Pavane for a Dead Princess”) for solo piano (a decade later, he published an orchestral version). The piece wasn’t written for a particular person; Ravel simply wanted to compose a. . .
Fiston Mwanza Mujila is an award-winning author, born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, who now, at 33, lives in Austria. From what I could find, much of his work is influenced by the Congo’s battle for independence and its. . .