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International Literature News

By David Varno

On occasion of Zoetrope’s Latin American Issue, editor Daniel Alarcón talked last Friday with the New Yorker’s Book Bench. Contributors include Guillermo del Toro, Daniel Alarcón, Diego Trelles Paz, Carolina Sanín, Ronaldo Menéndez, Inés Bortagaray, Patricio Pron, Rodrigo Hasbún, Antonio Ungar, Alejandro Zambra, Aura Estrada (who has contributed here), Veronica Stigger, and Slavko Zupcic.


From Bacacay: Andrzej Mandalian has been nominated for the European Poet of Freedom Award. Evidently it took one year for the judges to whittle him out from the six other Polish candidates.


Saudi Arabian novelist Yousef Al-Mohaimeed, whose controversial 2005 novel The Bottle has yet to be published in English was featured in PEN’s own roundup of World Voices. See The National’s article on what’s happening in Saudi Arabian literature.


On Wednesday, May 27th at 7 pm The Polish Cultural Institute in New York and The Polish Book Institute (Krakow, Poland) will present a conversation with Wojciech Tochman, Francisco Goldman (who has contributed here), and Jonathan Brent on "Literary Reportage: The Forensics Of Crisis." The event will be held Idlewild Books (12 W. 19th St., New York, NY. 10011). Here's a description of the event:

The status of reportage as a field of literature in the English-language world continues to be debated, and often simply dismissed, even as other genres of creative nonfiction—the essay, the memoir—rise in critical and commercial estimation. Just as novelists regularly rely on research of present-day circumstances and past events for their fictions, writers of reportage have always made use of literary techniques to structure and convey information about the real world. In many other cultures, this artistic condition of reportage is unquestioned; and in their home countries, reporters like Ryszard Kapuscinski are celebrated as literary masters, while other writers like Gabriel Garcia Marquez move easily between novels and journalism.

Literary Reportage: The Forensics of Crisis: brings together three authors who have come to the field of reportage from very different backgrounds. In his book The Stalin Archives: Discovering the New Russia, Jonathan Brent, Editor-in-Chief of Yale University Press and founder of Yale's Annals of Communism series, relates a tale of his own encounters with bureaucracy and everyday life in post-Soviet Russia that is as grim as it is gripping. Four-time novelist Francisco Goldman expanded a 1999 New Yorker article about the murder of Guatemalan bishop Juan Gerardi into a widely acclaimed classic of investigative journalism, The Art of Political Murder: Who Killed the Bishop?, which had direct impact on the most recent Guatemalan elections. In his devastating reportage Like Eating a Stone: Surviving the Past in Bosnia, Warsaw-based journalist Wojciech Tochman follows both Polish forensic scientist Ewa Klonowska as she exhumes mass graves in Bosnia, and the families of the victims as they wait for their loved ones to be identified. Moderator Marcela Valdes is a Contributing Editor to Publishers Weekly, Books Editor of The Washington Examiner, a former NBCC Board Member, and a recent recipient of a 2010 Nieman Foundation Fellowship at Harvard University.

Coming together on the eve of this year's Book Expo America, the three authors will discuss their own approaches, experiences, and motivations as writers, what it means to write at the intersection of literature and political, social, and historical crisis, and what significance reportage can have for readers and communities.

For more information, visit the Polish Cultural Institute Website..

Published May 12, 2009   Copyright 2009 David Varno

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