If you happen to be here in Rochester, you should definitely come to U of R’s Plutzik Library at 6:30 for tonight’s Reading the World Conversation Series event with Jorge Volpi and Alfred Mac Adam.
Jorge is one of the founding members of the “Crack” group—a collection of young Mexican writers who put together this manifesto about breaking with the (derivative) tradition of magical realism, and writing structurally complex, cosmopolitan books. Simon & Schuster published In Search of Klingsor a few years back, and we just got our copies of Season of Ash back from the printer.
Here’s the description:
Jorge Volpi’s international bestseller Season of Ash puts a human face on the earth-shaking events of the late twentieth century: the Chernobyl disaster, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the end of Soviet communism and the rise fo the Russian oligarchs, the cascading collapse of developing economies, and the near-miraculous scientific advances of the Human Genome Project. Told through the intertwined lives of three women—Irina, a Soviet biologist; Eva, a Hungarian computer scientist; and Jennifer, an American economist—this novel-of-ideas is part detective novel, part scientific investigation, and part journalistic expose, with a dark, destructive love story at its center.
Praised throughout the world for his inventive storytelling and stylistic ambition, Jorge Volpi has become one of the leading innovators of twenty-first-century world literature. Season of Ash calls to mind the best works of Richard Powers and Carlos Fuentes, and it is a stunning, singular achievement.
Here’s a promo bit from this morning’s news program (which, fantastically, always interviews out RTWCS authors):
Jorge’s an impressive guy, and when I was with him at the Guadalajara Book Fair, he was the equivalent of a literary rockstar. And his translator Alfred Mac Adam is equally interesting. Alfred has translated Carlos Fuentes, Mario Vargas Llosa, Jose Donoso, and Julio Coratzar among others. He also used to edit Review: Latin American Literature and Arts and currently teaches at Barnard College.
The event should be really interesting, both in the discussion of the book itself and in talking about the future of Latin American literature. (All next week we’ll be running a five-part essay by Jorge about the future of L.A. lit . . . ) And for those of you not fortunate enough to live in Rochester (or, you know, whatever), we’ll be videotaping this and will post it as soon as possible.
(Also want to take a line here and thank both the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York State Council on the Arts for making the entire Reading the World Conversation Series possible.)
Pedro Zarraluki’s The History of Silence (trans. Nick Caistor and Lorenza García) begins with the narrator and his wife, Irene, setting out to write a book about silence, itself called The History of Silence: “This is the story of how. . .
There are plenty of reasons you can fail to find the rhythm of a book. Sometimes it’s a matter of discarding initial assumptions or impressions, sometimes of resetting oneself. Zigmunds Skujiņš’s Flesh-Coloured Dominoes was a defining experience in the necessity. . .
In a culture that privileges prose, reviewing poetry is fairly pointless. And I’ve long since stopped caring about what the world reads and dropped the crusade to get Americans to read more poems. Part of the fault, as I’ve suggested. . .
I would like to pose the argument that it is rare for one to ever come across a truly passive protagonist in a novel. The protagonist (perhaps) of Three Light-Years, Claudio Viberti, is just that—a shy internist who lives in. . .
The last five days of the eleventh-century Icelandic politician, writer of sagas, and famous murder victim Snorri Sturleleson (the Norwegian spelling, Snorre, is preserved in the book) make up Thorvald Steen’s most recently translated historical fiction, The Little Horse. Murdered. . .
We all know Paris, or at least we think we know it. The Eiffel Tower. The Latin Quarter. The Champs-Élysées. The touristy stuff. In Dominique Fabre’s novel, Guys Like Me, we’re shown a different side of Paris: a gray, decaying. . .
One hundred pages into Birth of a Bridge, the prize-winning novel from French writer Maylis de Kerangal, the narrator describes how starting in November, birds come to nest in the wetlands of the fictional city of Coca, California, for three. . .
At 30, the Mexican writer Valeria Luiselli is already gathering her rosebuds. Faces in the Crowd, her poised debut novel, was published by Coffee House Press, along with her Brodsky-infused essay collection, Sidewalks. The essays stand as a theoretical map. . .
Fantomas Versus the Multinational Vampires: An Attainable Utopia (narrated by Julio Cortázar) is, not disappointingly, as wild a book as its title suggests. It is a half-novella half-graphic novel story about . . . what, exactly? A European tribunal, Latin. . .
Marie NDiaye has created a tiny, psychological masterpiece with her Self-Portrait in Green. In it she explores how our private fears and insecurities can distort what we believe to be real and can cause us to sabotage our intimate relationships.. . .