One of the leading voices of young contemporary Mexican writing, Jorge Volpi, will visit the University of Rochester for a reading and discussion of his latest novel, Season of Ash, on Tuesday, Oct. 20, at 6:30 p.m. in Rush Rhees Library. The event is being hosted by Open Letter, the University's press dedicated to publishing works of literature in translation, which signed Volpi in 2007 as its first Latin-American author.
"Jorge Volpi is helping to define the future for Latin-American fiction. His unique style of writing draws from his humanistic education as well as his dedication to literature," says Chad Post, director of Open Letter. Through the personal lives of three characters, Season of Ash explores several socio-political events of the late 20th century: the Chernobyl disaster, fall of the Berlin Wall, and the near-miraculous scientific advances of the Human Genome Project. While describing Season of Ash as an exploration of greed and disillusionment, Post points to Volpi's literary influence as a turning point for Latin-American authors of his generation.
Born in Mexico City in 1968, Volpi grew up during a time where "Mexican Literature" was typically defined by magical realism. In 1994 he founded, with other Mexican authors, the literary group "Crack," which works to help Latin-American authors use their own voice in their writings, and to disassociate their works from North American neo-realism and magical realism. Volpi is an author, scholar, and diplomat who has written nine books of fiction. His novel En Busca de Klingsor won the Biblioteca Breve Prize in 1999 and was translated into English as In Search of Klingsor.
Volpi will be joined at the event by the translator of Season of Ash, Alfred Mac Adam, who has been a professor of Latin-American literature at Barnard College since 1983. He has translated novels by Carlos Fuentes and Mario Vargas, among others. He is also a former editor of Review: Latin American Literature and Arts, a biannual magazine that presents work by Latin-American writers to English-speaking audiences.
"Our aim at Open Letter is to find interesting authors from around the world who can help readers learn different cultural perspectives," says Post. Founded in 2007, Open Letter is part of a broader initiative at the University of Rochester to support studies of literature in translation. Publishing 10 books a year, the Press is one of very few organizations in the United States with a commitment to cultivating an appreciation for international literature.
For more information about Open Letter, Season of Ash, or about Jorge Volpi and Alfred Mac Adam's reading and discussion on Tuesday, Oct. 20 at 6:30 p.m., at Rush Rhees Library, visit http://www.openletterbooks.org/news.