A crowd of roughly sixty people filled the rustic loft space at 61 Local on Tuesday night for a bilingual reading from Words without Borders's September issue of writing from Peru, “Geography of the Peruvian Imagination.”
The evening began with an introduction by WWB Editor Eric M. B. Becker, who noted the “startling range and mastery” of the twelve authors in the issue. Prémio Las Americas Prize-winner Claudia Salazar Jiménez then tickled the audience with her darkly funny story “At Peace” in Spanish; WWB Executive Director Karen Phillips read George Henson's English translation.
The tone shifted when Independent Foreign Fiction Prize-winner Santiago Roncagliolo took the mic with an excerpt of colorful reportage from “Living with the Beast,” featuring a problem child from Nebraska who finds his niche practicing permaculture in Peru. Becker followed by reading the English translation by Lawrence Schimel. (For those who missed it, there's audio of Roncagliolo reading an excerpt in Spanish in the issue.)
To close out the night, the audience joined in a series of questions on a range of topics, like the impact of Mario Vargas Llosa's recent Nobel Prize on the visibility of other Peruvian authors, how the expatriate experience influences their writing, and the relationship between writers and translators. The authors stuck around to sign copies of their books and to chat with the audience in English and Spanish.
This was WWB's second event at 61 Local, where the magazine hosted Cuban writer Leonardo Padura and translator Anna Kushner in February 2014. Tuesday’s event was a fitting tribute to a wildly successful issue, and the enthusiasm of our readers, authors, and translators—in person and on social media—made it a great night for all!