Enrique Bernardo Núñez: Cubagua, edited by Alejandro Bruzual, translated by Rowena Hill
“Cubagua—conceived in 1925, written between 1928 and 1930, and published in 1931—is the culmination of Enrique Bernardo Núñez’s narrative work. The novel, which occupies a very special place in Venezuelan literature, signified an advance in Latin American fiction as a whole. Although a long time passed before it was recognized as such, it is regarded today as the country’s chief avant-garde novel, having no precedent and leaving practically no recognizable heirs. Speaking of the past, the author succeeded, before any contemporary intellectual or writer, in deeply understanding the complexity of the present, obliquely analyzing the society and the consequences of the economic project of the dictatorship of the time. An almost prophetic work, it already identifies some of the main problems that have obstructed the realization of the possible future encoded in the South American nation and its immense natural riches. Venezuelan author Enrique Bernardo Núñez (1895-1964), as well as a writer of fiction, was a full member of the Academia Nacional de la Historia, the first official chronicler of the city of Caracas, and an opinion journalist for almost half a century.” – Alejandro Bruzual
Rafael Cadenas: Florecemos en un abismo: Poemas, prologue by Arturo Gutiérrez Plaza
“‘I / am just / a man trying to breathe / through the pore of language. / A stigma, / sometimes an intruder, / in any case, someone out of character.’ These words from a poem by Rafael Cadenas, published in his book Gestiones (1992), speak to us of someone whose relationship with language is organic, vital, and indispensable, but arduous and complicated all at once. They speak to us also of a state of consciousness that has attained an existential fullness in line with wisdom, leaving behind simulacra and imposture, opting instead for living ‘out of character.’ Reaching this state is the result of a long journey, full of uncertainty and guesswork, that began more than six decades ago.” – Arturo Gutiérrez Plaza
Luis Miguel Isava: De las prolongaciones de lo humano: Artefactos culturales y protocolos de la experiencia
“What is experience? What constitutes it? An everyday approach to these questions would presuppose that understanding emerges from sensory perception. Luis Miguel Isava returns to these inquiries and develops a very different proposal: experience is not produced as the result of perceiving, understood as an original and unmediated act; rather, it takes place based on certain specific conditions of possibility. For Isava, this prerequisite functions, in effect, as a protocol: a system of formal criteria, subject to historical and cultural contingencies, that organize and lend meaning to the perceived, thereby ‘endorsing’ it as experience. These protocols that make experience possible are so deeply rooted that they can appear invisible and ‘natural’ to us, when in fact they are ever-changing.” – Juan Pablo Lupi
Elisa Díaz Castelo: An Imperfect Geometry, translated by Robin Myers
“There are echoes and playful rewritings of Octavio Paz and Vicente Huidobro, but also the influence of Wislawa Szymborska—and, farther back, of Sor Juana, who shares Díaz Castelo’s interest in science and its nomenclatures. US American poetry also reveals its mark when the conversational register turns inward. Her work is also indebted to Greek tragedy and its choral structure, which breaks down the epic into voices. Elisa has the kind of talent that only comes around every thirty years. Anything can happen: she could stop writing, she could change the registers she explores, the genres she pursues. There’s no way to know. But what she has written so far has already secured her a place in the history of Mexican literature, and her name is already written there, her echo traveling back.” – Myriam Moscona
Kaira Vanessa Gámez: Lo demás es voz
“Lo demás es voz issues from houses in silence. These are poems whose words are peeled off oblivion. One must break apart bodies and footprints to say what must not be kept silent, what belongs to the night. Family characters, plots, and knots, which somehow come undone, keep the tension high. A rebel poet eludes silences; ‘where there are no voices, I step in.’ The mother is the center, but also the daughter. The word itself and varied readings accompany Kaira Vanessa Gámez; within them, she seeks some sort of redemption.” – María Clara Salas
Daniela Ema Aguinsky: Terapia con animales
“Between Casi incendio mi cuarto con una vela and Estoy enamorada de Ellen Bass, we find this book by Daniela Ema Aguinsky, where every instant incinerates the last with unforeseen grace. Not stepping back and not getting ahead of herself, living in the now, shining a light on each happening before it gets lost—this seems to be her natural condition. The everyday blends into the momentous: menstruation and the synagogue coexist within a single poem, unbothered. In Terapia con animales, desire is transfigured into an object, the cold leftovers of a breakup remain in the freezer, an infidelity leaves only a forgotten pair of panties between the sheets. Fleeting secrets allow this original, solitary voice to find in love a vocative with which to test distance.” – Fernanda García Lao
Jorge Andrés Medina: Osario
Those who have departed still remain, buried in the cemetery of our memory. To recount the ineffable labor of excavating fleshless recollections and, little by little, bring them back to life: this is achieved in this Osario. Jorge Andrés Medina lifts up the tombstones of the past, revealing an intimacy that, as we come to understand, belongs to us: the beloved grandparents we lost in childhood, the exile proper to all youth, the mother who returns seeking forgiveness, and our father, after having robbed him of his mannerisms and his steady gaze. Everyone remembers their dead every now and then. Only a poet can unearth their secrets, to give them an ossuary worth visiting.
Eduardo Cote Lamus: Diario del Alto San Juan y del Atrato
Originally published in the magazine Mito in 1959, the Diario del Alto San Juan y del Atrato is the result of Eduardo Cote Lamus’s journey to the Chocó department on behalf of Colombia’s House of Representatives. As Chocoan writer Velia Vidal notes in her introduction, “going against the grain of the travelers of his time, Eduardo Cote Lamus does not see us as strange; he looks us in the eye, on a level, and builds a narrative for Chocoans and visitors from any location, in which the former see us treated justly and the latter will be enticed by an extraordinary place.” The photographs that accompany the text, taken by the author himself, as well as the images of the notebook in which the poet recorded his observations, are published here for the first time.
Amparo Dávila: Cuentos reunidos
The short fiction of Amparo Dávila flows with stylistic simplicity and pause, addressing a broad range of human emotions. Her characters confront fear, solitude, death, and madness, the products of an undefined, disturbing presence. The exploration of mental and emotional disorders in the narrative work of this Mexican writer, as well as the complex way she structures her characters, has led to her literary body of work being recognized as one of the richest and most enigmatic in Mexican fiction. This edition brings together all the short stories written by this significant author: her already renowned collections Música concreta, Tiempo destrozado, and Árboles petrificados, as well as a previously unpublished volume, Con los ojos abiertos.
Various authors: Nuevas emergencias
Nuevas emergencias was published exactly ten years after Emergencias, the short fiction anthology in which authors like Mónica Ojeda, Carolina Bruck, Eduardo Ruiz Sosa, and Tomás Sánchez Bellocchio were first published in Spain. In this new volume, seventeen Ibero-American writers, all of whom studied at the master’s program in creative writing at the UPF-BSM, remind us that the short story genre is still as much an archive of classical forms as a laboratory for new variations. With echoes of the great American masters of the twentieth century (from Borges to Foster Wallace and Carver to Alice Munro) and the twenty-first (like program instructors Juan Villoro and Samanta Schweblin), this book presents texts that speak of ancient mournings and investigate today’s technologies, from urban realism to gothic fantasy, with and without fiction, on science at the end of the world and love in the time of Instagram.
Daniel Rea Gómez: Fruto
To care for another preserves us, sustains us, and brings us together, but also flattens us and wears us out. In Fruto, the contradictions of care are addressed through fourteen voices that interweave, giving rise to a transgenerational book that explores an obvious fact that goes largely unrecognized: stories of care cannot be reduced only to mothers; in fact, they involve us all. We are not all mothers, but we have all cared and been cared for. When the endless labor of maternity cornered Daniela Rea in a dark place, she did what she knows best: journalism. To understand her new circumstances, she sought out other women who mother and care; listening to them led her to interview her own mother, to question her own upbringing. While she listened to these experiences of care in extreme situations, her own story found its place and meaning. Fruto is a convocation of women, the result of lending an ear to ourselves to find what brings us together.
Jorge Carrión: Los campos electromagnéticos
One hundred years after the publication of the landmark surrealist work Los campos magnéticos by André Breton and Philippe Soupault, composed through automatic writing, we find here the first collaborative effort in Spanish between people and machines to put together a book. Writer Jorge Carrión, along with the engineers and artists of Taller Estampa, programmed and fed a GPT-2 artificial intelligence system and conversed with another, GPT-3, with the end goal of generating two literary texts: exercises in speculative writing, sometimes surreal, as hypnotic as they are disturbing. The volume is topped off with an introduction and an epilogue, producing an essay on the theories and practices of artificial writing, in which Carrión sheds light on the past, present, and future of the fascinating bond between aesthetic creation and automation.
Valeria Tentoni: El color favorito
Is the question the starting point of all writing? Or does it rather come through contact, reading, books—a teacher, as in this case? Is it a vocation that can be taught and learned? Valeria Tentoni narrates a desire that transforms into an outline, then into writing, and finally into a book and into learning, always along personal and haphazard paths. In this ode to the interview, in her admiration of the teacher, we see a journey through which a writer constructs herself in the reflections of others.
Silvia Guerra and Jesse Lee Kercheval, ed.: Flores Raras: (escondido país) poesía de mujeres uruguayas
With a prologue by Lucía Delbene and an epilogue by María Rosa Olivera Williams, Flores Raras brings together poems by fifty-four women, from some who started publishing in 1900 to others born in 1939. Silvia Guerra and Jesse Lee Kercheval, recognizing the outstanding work of so many Uruguayan women poets, sought to revisit the work of many others with solid bodies of work who, nonetheless, are not so well recognized, and are even sometimes forgotten or entirely unknown. So, as well as poets like Delmira Agustini, María Eugenia Vaz Ferreira, Juana de Ibarbourou, and Ida Vitale, Flores Raras includes the work of authors like Concepción Silva Belinzon, Susana Soca, María de Monserrat, Luisa Luisi, Virginia Brindis de Salas, Eduarda Cadenazzi, and María Mauricia Gutiérrez, and, of course, local historian María Díaz de Guerra.
Jorge Volpi: Enrabiados
Can the irreversible be stopped in its tracks? Can a person become a theorem with no solution? Is it possible to flee from a fate that does not belong to us? Is it social media that pushes us into battle? Can a fictional character compose a declaration of principles? Does all music fit into a single body? We walk along, besieged by questions; we suffer the inequality imposed upon us by those in power; we breathe in the anger of ever-more polarized societies. We live furious lives, irascible lives, enraged lives. As if this were a guidebook to rage, here Jorge Volpi dissects, stresses, and delves masterfully into the spaces that generate our confrontations and the fissures into which each and every one of us plunges, if we are not lucky enough to escape.
Nayeli García Sánchez: Araneae
Thanks to a Google search, Natalia discovers that her father, who abandoned her when she was a baby, passed away four years ago. She decides to travel to Irapuato, her father’s native city, in search of information on him, despite the reservations of her boyfriend and her mother, who can’t make heads or tails of this trip. Natalia is joined in this pursuit by her boyfriend and, above all, by her relationship with spiders, which have been present in her life since she was a little girl and with which she now works professionally.
Luis Sagasti: Lenguas vivas
How many languages have been heard throughout human history? How many different colors do these languages name? How many verb tenses do they use? Do they have their own alphabets? How many living languages survive today? Lusi Sagasti has composed an unclassifiable, hypnotic book in which he tells minimal stories, ones that leave their mark on time, like the songs sung in the evenings by soldiers on both sides in the trenches of the First World War, or the biographies of unknown contributors to encyclopedias and dictionaries, or the traces of the final speakers of a language, or the frantic correspondence between translators who play at translating a story from English to Spanish and back to English then back to Spanish and so on and so on to infinity.
Dainerys Machado: Retratos de la orilla
A woman returns from Havana to Miami just to learn that her boyfriend, a Democrat politician, was caught in a hotel room with another man. A woman takes care of her dying mother, a former beauty queen who has called her ugly her entire life. A woman who wants to get pregnant goes, with a thousand doubts in tow, to a gender reveal party. Between realism and fantasy, this nomadic book travels through diverse settings in Cuba and Miami. In its nine stories, it explores the short story’s ability to create its own little worlds, in the right hands. With humor, ease, and cruelty, dodging the clichés of stories about women, Dainerys Machado sinks into the complex, sometimes contradictory psyches of her characters, inviting us into surprising tales with the narrative diversity that only a true storyteller can master.
Claudia Piñeiro: A Little Luck, translated by Frances Riddle
Twenty years after a shocking accident, Mary Lohan returns to the Buenos Aires suburb she escaped in a fugue of guilt and isolation. She is not the same—not her name or voice, not even the color of her eyes. The neighborhood looks different too, but she’s still the same woman and it’s still the same place, and as the past erupts into view, they slowly collide. A Little Luck is a story about the debilitating weight of lies, the messy line between bravery and cowardice, and the tragedies, big and small, that can ripple out from a single decisive event. In a place she had determined to forget forever, both anticipated encounters and unanticipated revelations show her, and us, that sometimes life is neither fate nor chance: perhaps it’s nothing more than a little luck.
Silvina Giaganti: Donde brilla el tibio sol
“‘We’re on the take-it-head-on-and-see-what’s-up team,’ says a friend to this book’s narrator, inadvertently defining its author’s poetics. The cocktail employed by Silvina Giaganti (barrio, football, father) could end in disaster, but it doesn’t. With the same tone—somewhere in between hot and cold—with which she talks to a guy who picks her up the day Independiente plays La B, Silvina faces up to clichés, taking them apart and putting them back together with heart and smarts. She also takes apart, in passing, the ghosts of inner shortfalls, producing (steely-eyed) an archaeology of the self that’s something like an investigative report into intimacy and a lot like a poetic metaphor straight to the jaw. Independiente, she says, is the Trojan horse in which the emotions that will one day detonate are hidden. What more can I say? Nothing: read Donde brilla el tibio sol, if possible while listening to Nino Bravo.” – Santiago Llach
Alejandro Zambra: Literatura infantil
A diary of fatherhood, a “letter to my son,” and pure fiction coexist in extraordinary harmony throughout this book. While this singular and unclassifiable book by Alejandro Zambra is called Literatura infantil, it should be added that it includes a phenomenal short story centered on vulgar language and a straightforwardly lysergic tale in which a man tries, in the midst of a therapeutic mushroom trip, to relearn the demanding art of crawling. If any child should accidentally come across these pages, they should read them in the company of an adult, despite the fact that here it is the children who, in their own way, protect the adults from despondency, selfishness, and the dictatorship of chronological time.