Weekly Dispatches from the Frontlines of World Literature

Our weekly roundup of literary news brings us to Guatemala, Mexico, and Poland.

Wondering what is going on around the literary globe? You are in luck! This week we have reports from our amazing Editors at Large from Guatemala, Mexico, and Poland. Keep on reading! 

José García Escobar, Editor-at-Large, reporting from Guatemala:

We’ve got new winners and new publications coming from Guatemala!

F&G Editores just announced the latest winner of their biannual short-story collection award, BAM Letras, Marlon Meza with his book Coreografía del desencanto. Additionally, the jury suggested the publication of Hijos del pedernal y la brea by Gerardo José Sandoval and Voices aisladas by Mario Alejandro Chavarría. Sadly, the BAM Letras award, which has recognized the work of great writers such as Arnoldo Gálvez Suárez and Valeria Cerezo has come to an end, according to F&G Editores’ director, Raul Figueroa Sarti.

Additionally, last week, Guatemala’s Editorial Cultural reissued Verdad del agua y del viento by legendary Costa Rican writer, Fabián Dobles. F&G also recently presented Ita by Mónica Albizúres and El lamento de El Zopilote by Braulio Salazar Zelada—you can read a fragment of his novel here. And also, earlier this month, one of F&G’s most popular books, Marta Casaús’ Guatemala: linaje y racismo, was reissued for the fifth time. Marta’s book is considered one of the cornerstones of Guatemalan anthropology.

And finally beloved Guatemalan author Eduardo Halfon just published Biblioteca Bizarra. Edited by Spanish press Jekyll & Hyde, Halfon’s new book is a collection of several essays about his relationship with his environment, country of birth, language, and literature. Keep an eye on Eduardo’s new translation, Mourning (Bellevue Press) coming out in May.

Paul Worley and Kelsey Woodburn, Editors-at-Large, reporting from Mexico:

Tsotsil Maya poet Ruperta Bautista Vásquez’s essay “Breviary of Indigenous Revolt and Resistance in Chiapas” appeared in English translation by Marc DelAl in The Funambulist 15. This important essay is one of the few critical works by a Latin American indigenous poet and intellectual to be available in English translation.

On March 2 in México City, Pluralia Ediciones held a book presentation for Mè’phàà writer Hubert Malina’s latest work, Cicatriz que te mira (Scars Watching You). Winner of the 2017 Indigenous Literary Prize of the Américas, Malina’s poem “Earthen Skin” appeared in translation in Asymptote’s Winter 2018 edition.

The seventh edition of the International Reading Festival de Yucatán (FILEY) took place from March 10 to the 18 in Mérida, Yucatán, México. This year’s invited country of honor was Russia.

On March 20 in México City, Tsotsil poet Manuel Bolom held a book presentation for his latest work, Festival of the Chicharra: a Ceremonial Wedding Discourse. The collection won México’s prestigious Indigenous literary award, the Nezahualcóyotl, in 2016.

From March 31 to April 2, San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, México, will host the first Encounter of Writers from Chiapas-Central América, which will bring together writers from throughout Chiapas and Guatemala. Authors include Chary Gumeta, Alejandro Aldana, Mike Ruiz, Lyz Sáenz, Negma Coy, and Pablo Fuentes.

Julia Sherwood, Editor-at-Large, reporting from Poland:

This decade has brought a slew of highly acclaimed Polish literary biographies. Following the monumental Miłosz. Biografia (2011; the abridged English version, translated and edited by Aleksandra and Michael Parker, 2017), critic Andrzej Franaszek has turned to another great Polish poet, Zbigniew Herbert. His two-volume biographyHerbert: Biografia I. Niepokój (Unrest) and Herbert: Biografia II. Pan Cogito (Mr. Cogito), is due to appear in May. 2017 saw the publication of Klementyna Suchanów’s two-part Gombrowicz. Ja, Geniusz (I, the Genius), reviewed by past Asymptote contributor Tul’si Bhambry, as well as Wojciech Orliński’s fascinating Lem. Życie nie z tej ziemi (Lem. A Life Out of this World). The latter sheds light on little-known aspects of the author’s life, including his Jewish background, which the prolific science fiction writer was reluctant to talk about (read Mikołaj Gliński’s article on whether Lem’s sci-fi world was shaped by the Holocaust).

Poland’s literary community was outraged by the news last year that the flat in Warsaw where writer, film director, and scriptwriter Tadeusz Konwicki lived from 1956 until his death in 2015, had been put up for sale. In January, the Polish Book Institute announced that it had bought the flat: it will be preserved in its original state and used for translators‘ residencies.

And finally, a roundup of literary festivals and prizes: from March 24 to 25 the city of Kraków hosted the 7th comic book festival, featuring exhibitions, workshops for children, animated film screenings, and meetings with Polish authors, as well as Swedish cartoonists Max Andersson and Lars Sjunnesson. The theme of this year’s Miłosz Festival, to be held in Kraków from June 7 to 10, will be The Year of the Hunter. The 2018 Passport, the prestigous prize awarded by the weekly Polityka, went to Marcin Wicha for his essay Rzeczy, których nie wyrzuciłem (Things I Didn’t Throw Out). On March 21 Adam Zagajewski received the Golden Wreath Award at Macedonia’s Struga Poetry festival (previous winners include Charles Simic and Margaret Atwood). And fingers crossed for Olga Tokarczuk, whose novel Flights (trans. Jennifer Croft) has been longlisted for the Man Booker International Prize.


For more literary news, check out these past blog posts: