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October 2006

Latin Labyrinths: The Next Generation

Looking for a way through the labyrinth of Latin American literature? Juan Villoro's "House Loses" makes clear the life of a broke-down casino in the hills, and Horacio Castellanos Moya's sweeping novel Senselessness illuminates the violence in Central America. Literature becomes a vehicle to freedom in the imaginary travelog of an exile, One Year by Juan Emar. Plinio Apuleyo Mendoza raises a glass to his friend Gabriel García Marquez. As a kind of apotheosis, Ralph Angel's essay on Federico García Lorca's poetry formulates the immortality of song.

Finally, we discover ourselves in the company of the heirs of the legacy of Jorge Luis Borges. Fernando Sorrentino catalogs brilliant faux-encyclopedia entries on "The Extinction of Basilisks" and "The Diet of Horses," and Alberto Ruy-Sánchez shows the ontological side of the entomological in his sensual "Garden of Voices." Then Aura Estrada divines the aesthetics of Borges in relation to those of Roberto Bolaño. For those readers seeking yet more doppelgängers of the great Argentine librarian, he and they can be found in every text of the following archives.

Borges, Bolaño and the Return of the Epic
During their lifetimes, Jorge Luis Borges and Roberto Bolaño struggled against vanity and all things pretentious, aspirational, ordinary, and obliging. They are peculiar cases in literature, ones…
Translated from Spanish
All the Languages in the World
By Zbigniew Mentzel
Chapter OneAwakeningIt was a terrible dream.At first I couldn’t find my bearings in it – I didn’t know what I was actually dreaming about, what I felt afraid of, or what those big chunks…
Translated from Polish by Antonia Lloyd-Jones
Cons: Cat
A cat jumped through the window. Jumped right on to the piano. And played on it, amazed: Whenever I jump, the piano sings. I was in the next room and I thought a spirit played. But then it was struck…
Translated from Slovenian
from “One Year”
By Juan Emar
An Introduction to Juan Emar by Pablo Neruda1I knew Juan Emar intimately and yet I never knew him. He had great friends who he never met. Women who never touched more than his skin. A relative they put…
Translated from Spanish by Daniel Borzutzky
from Yalo
By Elias Khoury
TRANSLATOR’S NOTE: “Yalo” is the story of an interrogation, by a nameless officer, of Daniel Habil Abyad, a young man of Assyrian Christian background who is accused, among other crimes,…
Translated from Arabic by Humphrey Davies
Attempting to Live Inside Federico García Lorca’s “Poema del Cante Jondo” for a While
1 I'm convinced that some languages, languages we neither speak nor understand, are familiar to the ear. For myself, the romance and Semitic languages, the languages of the Mediterranean and the Middle…
Translated from Spanish
The Garden of Voices
By Alberto Ruy-Sánchez
From The Secret Gardens of Mogador: Voices of the EarthTRANSLATOR’S NOTE: In The Secret Gardens of Mogador: Voices of the Earth, Alberto Ruy-Sánchez transports his readers once again to Mogador,…
Translated from Spanish by Rhonda Dahl Buchanan
The House Loses
By Juan Villoro
Terrales was founded by improvident people, who found themselves without fuel in the mountains, and had no wish to return on foot to the desert suns. The sole meeting place (though it would be more precise…
Translated from Spanish by Amanda Hopkinson
I never had a beard. Not even in the photo that you contemplate now amused, the young man with eyes full of impertinence and contrary, with the turtleneck sweater, and the long hair and a dubious cigarette,…
Translated from Spanish
Two Common Misconceptions
By Fernando Sorrentino
OneReasons for the Extinction of BasilisksThe most casual observation would seem to suggest, beyond a doubt, that the basilisk species is on its way to extinction. Based on the studies conducted so far,…
Translated from Spanish by Donald A. Yates
from “The Lost Cause: A Memoir of My Life with Gabriel García Marquez”
By Plinio Apuleyo Mendoza
Whenever he comes to Paris, he calls immediately.“My friend,'' his voice explodes, “Why don't you come have lunch with me?”Now he's the owner of a neat, tranquil apartment…
Translated from Spanish by Timothy Pratt
from “Senselessness”
By Horacio Castellanos Moya
ONEI am not complete in the mind, said the sentence I highlighted with the yellow marker and even copied into my personal notebook, because this wasn’t just any old sentence, much less some wisecrack,…
Translated from Spanish by Katherine Silver
from Chapter 12, The Autobiography of Fidel Castro
By Norberto Fuentes
(Circa) May 29The rebel group moves to the west of the Pico Turquino,1 in the Plata Alta region, where they quickly settle in.If you ever read Carlos Franqui’s Diary of the Cuban Revolution, you’ll…
Translated from Spanish by Anna Kushner
Threads that are worn through, idle affairs. The sky is an ungrateful fabric and the clouds make darts in the cotton. That's how I see it that's how. It wrinkles a little more, the forehead, to…
Translated from Spanish
An Interview with Zara Houshmand
How did you find the pieces you included in the Iran section of Literature from the “Axis of Evil”? Isn't it next to impossible to find out who the great writers are from the countries…
Translated from Arabic
An Interview with Jacqueline Loss
How did you select the Cuban pieces for the anthology, Literature from the “Axis of Evil”? I combed through Cuban print and Internet literary journals*Š and I spoke with translators……
An Interview with Hayun Jung
How easy was it for you, living in Seoul, to find work for the North Korea section of Literature from the “Axis of Evil” ? Because there are very few North Korean publications available to…