Between the release of this issue and the last, this part of the world seems to have been stricken with every sort of natural disaster. Hurricanes and earthquakes have left regions of the American continent in the midst of a humanitarian crisis that is far from being resolved. There is the case of Puerto Rico, struggling to survive after Hurricane Maria, or the havoc wrought by September’s earthquake in Mexico. However, other political and social crises, no less important, have worsened in recent months that–without fear of exaggeration–could very well be considered humanitarian crises as well.
We live in strange times. In this sense, we echo Daniel Simon’s last editorial (November 2017) for World Literature Today. A few years ago, we were confident that everything was progressing. Today, intolerance, violence, and discrimination do not appear to have diminished at all. It is an issue of great urgency. All the world over, we find ever-more-alarming signs every single day. From literature’s fragile and precarious perch, we ask ourselves: what can literature do about any of this? At first glance, little to nothing. Literature moves at its own pace, refusing to obey the demands of immediacy or style. Nevertheless, sooner or later, it crosses paths with reality. If there is something good about literature, it is that it never leaves reality in peace. In this sense, reading is a unique experience, perhaps one of the few human experiences through which we can gain access all the others in all their human dimensions. We read not only to understand that others exist, but also to feel and comprehend them through the vicarious experience that we call literature.
Therefore, Latin American Literature Today continues seeking to open up new, diverse spaces for creation and criticism. In this new issue we highlight, first of all, a dossier dedicated entirely to literature written by women. I refer to those authors of unconventional writings, or those who explore gender through literature. For example, in his article, “¿Soñaron nuestras escritoras ci-fi con canciones de cunas andoides?” [Did Our Women Sci-Fi Writers Dream of Android Lullabies?”], Marcelo Novoa explores the innumerable contributions put forward by unique Latin American women writers who have had to blaze their own trail through the predominantly male genre of science fiction. Likewise, in his article, “Una habitación, una casa, una ciudad propia. Cuatro prosistas latinoamericanas” [“A Room, a House, a City of One’s Own: Four Women Prose Writers from Latin America”], Sebastián Diez analyzes the various aesthetic and literary contributions from the stature of Carmen Ollé, Adriana Valdés, Margo Glantz, and María Moreno; all writers who are committed to distinct, original writing that is anything but complaisant.
The other highlighted dossier is dedicated to translation. We firmly believe in it. Without translation, literature would be condemned to remain within the borders of its original language. In this issue, our Editor of Translations, George Henson, has prepared a special dossier: “Cinco escritoras en traducción” [“Five Women Writers in Translation”]. Inside, we discover Jazmina Barrera translated by Christina MacSweeney, Mariana Torres translated by Lisa Dillman, Jeannette Clariond translated by Samantha Schnee, Luisa Valenzuela translated by Grady Wray, and finally, Carmen Boullosa translated by Lawrence Schimel. Our work would remain incomplete, however, if we failed to include a space in which to reflect upon translation as an aesthetic and intellectual exercise. To comply with this objective, Latin American Literature Today works to publish, whenever possible, material attendant to the translations themselves. This includes, for example, the translators’ notes, interviews between translators and authors, and even interviews between translators, where they discuss the subtleties and details of this silent trade, by which literature travels the world.
Finally, we must mention that our commitment to indigenous literature remains intact. In this issue, new works appear from the Mapuche authors Mariela Fuentealba Millaguir, Jaime Luis Huenún, and Natalia Toledo. This is made possible thanks to the work of Clare Sullivan, Arthur Dixon, and Sarah Booker. We also include Scott Weintraub’s article, “La copia es el original: La problemática de las obras pósthumas de Juan Luis Martínez” [“The Copy is the Original: The Quandary of the Posthumous Works of Juan Luis Martínez”], in which the renowned University of New Hampshire researcher takes on the controversial posthumous publication of the work of Juan Luis Martínez, the Chilean poet. We are certain that this article will not pass unnoticed by those familiar with the matter, and that it will bring about yet more controversy.
There are many authors (both women and men) who, due to spatial constraints, are not mentioned in this brief note. However, in this limitation, we are confident that our readers will be able to find a good excuse to keep reading. Latin American Literature Today is a magazine that promotes literature from every part of Latin America without distinction or exception – or borders. We are happy to confirm that our magic carpet is still translation, an art through which the other is not so strange and distant, but someone whom we can see and feel, if only by means of those crafty black ants that we continue to call words.
Translated by Michael Redzich