Posts filed under 'gabriel garcia marquez'

In Conversation with Isabel Allende

“In all my books there is a strong sense of place and my stories often have an epic breadth.”

The “eternal foreigner” sat down during the tail end of her U.S. book tour to discuss her new novel, The Japanese Lover, and writing across boundaries.

While working as a young reporter in Chile, Isabel Allende went to interview the great Don of twentieth-century poetry, Pablo Neruda. At least, she assumed as much when she accepted his invitation for a visit to his house on the coast.

In preparation for the event, Allende washed her car and bought a new tape recorder. She drove to Isla Negra. After she and Neruda shared a lunch of Chilean corvina and white wine, Allende proposed that they begin their interview. Neruda was surprised, and rebuffed her, saying, “My dear child, you must be the worst journalist in the country. You are incapable of being objective, you place yourself at the centre of everything you do, I suspect you’re not beyond fibbing, and when you don’t have news, you invent it.” He suggested that she switch to literature. Perhaps Allende never would have done so if she had foreseen how eager editors would be for her to repeat this fanciful anecdote over the years. Still, in radio interviews, her voice seems to soften into fondness during each retelling. 

The publication of her debut novel, The House of the Spirits, in 1982, allowed Allende to make a full-time career change. Her journo’s vice of placing herself “at the centre of everything” is transformed into a defining virtue through her fiction: she is an exemplar of using the third-person omniscient point of view. Allende’s works have been translated into 35 languages, and the Spanish-language edition of her latest book, El amante japonés, was released in September by Vintage Español. The English translation, The Japanese Lover, was released on November 3, from Atria.


Megan Bradshaw: Prior to moving to California, what was your familiarity with the history of Japanese internment camps in the United States? How did your initial historical research for The Japanese Lover influence your assumptions and the direction of the novel?

Isabel Allende: I had not heard about the internment camps before moving to California but in recent years there have a been a couple of novels that mention them. My research gave me a much deeper understanding of what this meant for the people who were in the camps, how they suffered, how they lost everything and how they felt dishonored and shamed. Of course, their situation can’t be compared to the victims of Nazi concentration camps because there was no forced labor, nobody starved and certainly there was no intention of exterminating them. I had not intended to dedicate full chapters to the camps in my novel but the material was fascinating. READ MORE…

What We’re Reading in July

What members of Asymptote's team have been reading—juicy, super-sweaty summer edition!

Adrian Nathan West (Contributing Editor): German writer Hans Henny Jahnn is one of the least classifiable writers of the twentieth century, and the relative paucity of his work in English translation is perplexing. Among his compatriots, his admirers included Bertolt Brecht, Thomas Mann, Peter Weiss, and Wolfgang Koeppen—the last of whom compared Jahnn’s prose style to Martin Luther’s Bible; Jahnn is one of the poets cited in Roberto Bolaño’s “Unknown University;” and more recently, he was the subject of a long blog post by Dennis Cooper. The philosophical currents underlying his work have much in common with Georges Bataille: the focus on the limit-experience, often attained through an agony that grazes against beatitude, the emphasis on the organic substrate of conscious life, and an unsettling combination of orgiastic excess and monastic quietude characterize both men’s work, though Jahnn’s precise and involuted language is far more innovative than Bataille’s. READ MORE…

Weekly News Roundup, 27th September 2014: New Gabo, Journalist Jargon

This week’s literary highlights from across the world

A few months ago, we reported on an American train company’s nostalgia-inspired plan to offer residency for certain writers, after some mused that they found they could boost productivity in transit. The company pulled through: here’s the list of the official Amtrak writers-in-residence. 

Here’s an interesting twist on the lost-language trope we report on all too often at the Roundup. Language heritage advocates at Viki are enlisting the likes of über-addictive Korean soap operas and (somewhat-less-salient) Mel Gibson movies to help preserve endangered languages across the globe. And while translators are often lamented as all-too-invisible arbiters of global literature, sometimes, that invisibility may be by choice: a profile of the anonymous translator of French writer Alain Robbe-Grillet’s latest shocker, A Sentimental Novel. Meanwhile, things aren’t quite looking up yet for the publishing industry in Nigeriabut it isn’t all bad, either, and one of Spain’s most venerated writers, Javier Marías, is finally getting acknowledged in English-speaking markets (slowly, but surely).  READ MORE…

Weekly News Roundup, 25th April 2014: Gabo and Shakira, Books and Roses

This week's literary highlights from across the world

Strong voices in poetry and protest, remembered: this week marked the unfortunate loss of two poetic voices in protest. Romanian poet Nina Cassian sought exile in the United States after her poems satirizing the Romanian regime stepped on too many toes. Doris Pilkington Garimara exposed systematic injustice toward the Aborigines in Australia most famously through her book, Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence. It may have happened last week, but the literary world is still reeling from the death of Colombian writer Gabriel García Márquez. In the New York Times, Michiko Kakutani remembers García Márquez’s memory while Salman Rushdie asserts that Gabo was “the greatest of us all.” We might see more from him, still: an unpublished excerpt, En Agosto nos Vemos. Or step back in time and read the magical realist’s profile on fellow Colombian pop sensation, Shakira. READ MORE…