We write in times of great uncertainty. Just when we thought the scourge of the pandemic, with its endless waves of deaths, was coming to an end, we awoke into a world we scarcely recognize. The war in Ukraine rings in our ears as yet another sign of the brutal barbarism of a totalitarian regime, pitiless and heartless. Inflation, migration, forced displacement, the profound fragility of the West’s democratic systems; we are right to be concerned about all of these things. Latin America concerns us too. At this time, it is impossible to ignore the world. As if in a bad sci-fi movie, it seems the future has come back in time, bringing us face-to-face with an unacceptable conclusion. Suffice it to say, for now, that this crisis should be of no surprise to us. What should shock us is the indifference toward the pain and precarity of others, the doubling-down on lives spent submerged in the narcissistic frivolity of social media, the turning-of-heads when help is needed most. Too much disquiet produces indolence in the comfortable. Since the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Ukrainian flag has flown on our webpage. With this small gesture, we mean to denounce Putin’s senseless aggression and express our solidarity with the Ukrainian people. We may be a literary journal, but we had to do something. The barbarism is appalling. And so we come to this new issue of LALT, shaken by recent events, but also alive and attentive to others. No literature ever came about without confidence that the human experience is worth being told—and defended.
There is much to read in this new issue. First, the cover feature. While literature is an exception in and of itself, sometimes certain writers amaze us still through the particular conditions in which their work takes shape. This is often a matter not of any one trait in particular, but rather of a certain set of characteristics that rarely come together in a single writer. This unique set of conditions marks their exceptionality. Such is the case of Fabio Morábito, born in Alexandria, raised in Milan, and living in Mexico since his adolescence: the author of a solid body of work in Spanish, mostly written in Mexico. Besides his own story, he is a writer who has forayed successfully into many genres, a dweller in two languages, and, somehow, an unclassifiable author who does not correspond to the predictable labels of the “Latin American writer.” In this issue of LALT, our associate editor, Arturo Gutiérrez Plaza, has put together a marvelous cover feature on Morábito’s work. In it, LALT’s readers will find writing by Fran Cruz, Ana García Bengua, Gina Saraceni, and Arturo himself, as well as an interesting interview with this remarkable Mexican writer.
As our readers have come to know, translation holds an important place in LALT’s digital pages. In this issue, we shed light on a happy coincidence: the confluence of outstanding translators of Latin American literature currently living and working in the city of Tulsa, Oklahoma. This coincidence is in no way arbitrary; rather, it is owed to the support of a visionary institution called the Tulsa Artist Fellowship, an initiative of the George Kaiser Family Foundation. Our managing editor, himself a translator and a Tulsa Artist Fellow, Arthur Malcolm Dixon, has assembled a dossier featuring the work of four outstanding U.S. translators: Jennifer Croft, George Henson, Steve Bellin-Oka, and Rhett McNeil. As Arthur says in his introduction, “Oklahoma is somehow the right place from which to translate Latin American literature into English.” The dossier serves as irrefutable proof of this. It is no exaggeration to say that we must pay attention to what’s happening right now in Tulsa—so much talent in one place can only lead to good work.
That’s not all you’ll find in this new offering from LALT. We have an interview with the winner of the 2022 Ribera del Duero Short Story Prize, Liliana Colanzi, and Arthur Malcolm Dixon in conversation with remarkable U.S. translator Robin Myers. We are pleased to present, for the first time in Spanish, Erik Gleibermann’s interview with Colombian writer Ingrid Rojas Contreras, published in World Literature Today in summer of 2021. In our Poetry section, you’ll find poems by Óscar Hahn of Chile, María Baranda of Mexico, and Lauren Mendinueta of Colombia. There is lots to see in our Previews section, too, including excerpts from Camila Sosa Villada’s Bad Girls in translation by Kit Maude and from Fernanda Melchor’s Paradais in translation by Sophie Hughes. Our poetry Preview comes from Katherine Silver’s translation of Verónica Zondek’s Cold Fire. This issue’s Indigenous Literature section is dedicated to poems in Maya languages, many of which, in this selection, are written as haikus. We feature poems by Canario de la Cruz, a Ch’ol Maya writer from Pactiún, Tumbalá, Chiapas; Héctor Rolando Xol Choc (Aj Chab’in), a Q’eqchi’ Maya writer from Guatemala; and Antonio Guzmán Gómez, a native speaker of the Tenejapa variety of Tseltal living in San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas.
As always, there is much more to be read in this issue. Please take the time to explore it. For now, I will close by saying that at least we still have the power to put literature to work, denouncing terror and trying to glimpse the dawn when the horizon is still covered by bomb smoke.