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Several Worlds Simultaneously: Seeking Argentina

April 2018

Image: Fernando O’Connor, “El Lector”/“The Reader” (detail), 2017, oil and charcoal on canvas, 220 X 170cm. By arrangement with the artist.
Image: Fernando O’Connor, “El Lector”/“The Reader” (detail), 2017, oil and charcoal on canvas, 220 X 170cm. By arrangement with the artist.

Our April issue features five writers who share—much more than, and perhaps in place of, any sense of national identity—a common commitment to searching and seeking out. Each of these writers seeks something different, but all of them grapple with myths: about identity, place, and relationships to others. Two contributors, Sara Gallardo and Norah Lange, appear here with selections from the first book-length English-language translations of their fiction. In a short story from her forthcoming collection, Gallardo presents a retiree and gardener who finds himself at sea in every sense of the term.  And avant-garde writer Lange—who, along with Borges and her husband, poet Oliverio Girondo, formed part of the influential Florida group in the 1920s and ’30s—observes a woman spying on, then becoming involved with, her neighbors in an excerpt from her forthcoming People in the Room. In an homage to one of the greats, Sergio Chejfec sends an essayist, a novelist, and a theologian on a pilgrimage through Père Lachaise after Juan José Saer, the literary giant who died in Paris in 2005. Taking the reader on a literary tour of Buenos Aires, pivotal literary and cultural critic Beatriz Sarlo deconstructs the myth that the city is the Paris of South America, while Marcelo Cohen reflects back on decades as a translator in Spain and the complex relationship between translation, exile, and identity.

Several Worlds Simultaneously: A Deeper Look at Argentina
By Eric M. B. Becker
The writers here lead us to a much more nuanced understanding of twentieth-century Argentina and its literature.
A Trip to the Cemetery
By Sergio Chejfec
One shouldn’t expect more from novelists than disjointed emanations without guaranteed outcomes.
Translated from Spanish by Heather Cleary
Open books splayed across wall
Photo by Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash
New Battles for the Propriety of Language
By Marcelo Cohen
The Spanish and I said very different things using almost the same words.
Translated from Spanish by Frances Riddle
Why Buenos Aires Is Not Paris
By Beatriz Sarlo
The comparison of Buenos Aires to Paris is an image of desire.
Translated from Spanish by Eric M. B. Becker & Julia Tomasini
Things Happen
By Sara Gallardo
A smell of putrefaction, and the city with lit-up buildings was waking, coated in shades of pink.
Translated from Spanish by Jessica Sequeira
People in the Room
By Norah Lange
It was too late to forget.
Translated from Spanish by Charlotte Whittle