Latin American literature is having its day in Dallas, Texas. This weekend on September 8th The Wild Detectives is bringing a portion of the infamous Hay Festival to Oak Cliff by hosting several panels of authors chosen from the festival’s literature anthology, Bogotá 39.
Best 39 Latin American authors under 39.
ONEWorld Publications (2018)
As the second installment of the Hay Festival publication, this anthology highlights Latin American authors at the forefront of their art. Whether through short story or novel excerpt, the featured writers give vibrancy and immediacy to the stories of nationalities throughout Latin America and demonstrate the shifting political and cultural divides tugging a continent into modernity. Representing a wide array of styles, genres, and subjects, these authors show a vast scope of imagination and compel the reader to redefine their view of Latin American voices as monolithic.
The first panel, Women & Mujeres, will feature Gabriela Jáuregui and Brenda Lozano. In their Bogotá 39 excerpts, these authors illustrate aspects of womanhood and the consequences of the social constructs that surround it. In Jáuregui’s writings, constant supernatural visions set the narrator apart as a witch, while Lozano portrays a young homeless girl eking out an existence with her depressed mother. Despite their differences in age and circumstance, each character seeks an understanding of their lives, searching for symbols that can foretell their futures even as they try desperately to survive and engage with the present. There is a sense that each author is writing the beginning and end of the same story; a girl growing up in an uncertain, unstable world and a woman for whom uncertainty has become an encompassing reality she struggles to keep at bay. Jáuregui and Lozano’s discussion will focus on the perspectives of Latin American women and the complexity of existing in a more tenuous and, at times, portentous space in the world.
Lola Copacabana and Juan Cárdenas are the authors on the second panel, Norte/South. Stylistically opposed, these authors examine mysterious happenstance and how miraculous dailiness impacts our individuality and communities. Copacabana reveals the surprising inner workings of a modern woman with a keen eye for contradictions in her culture and family. Through her fragmented prose and erudite observation, she never lets her reader forget that these minute interactions inform who we are and how we make our way in the world, no matter how insignificant they might seem. Cárdenas plunges us into darkness, walking his characters through Madrid in a blackout and revealing the latent oddness in all our relationships, pushing his characters to confront what lies beneath the masks we so often wear. Their discussion will center on the formation of identity; how we become who we are and how to find ourselves in the midst of paradoxical inner and outer landscapes.
Tomate, Tomato will focus on the intricacies and pitfalls of translation, and feature authors Daniel Saldaña París and Emiliano Monge. In Bogotá 39, París shares an excerpt of a forthcoming novel in which familial and political tensions are interwoven and mutually impactful as a mother leaves her family to join a revolutionary movement. Monge takes a different path as his characters race through an apocalyptic landscape in order to escape their captors and time itself. The difficulty of capturing these narratives with their full authenticity and nuance is an intimate work between author and translator who become co-artists in the pursuit of the same goal: communicating forceful, layered truth to a reader in an entirely different culture and tongue. It is thanks to this work that this volume exists at all, and a gift to reader and author alike that we have access to these pieces.
In a time when political rhetoric has been used to exploit cultural misunderstandings, engagement with Latin American stories, perspectives, and the creators who share them is more crucial than ever in order to bridge the borders that exist only in our own minds and hearts. Through the breadth of this volume and the dialogue it sparks, we can find common ground in our shared confusions and conflicts, and be reminded that it is our humanity that binds us all.
More info about Hay Festival Dallas Edition here.
Kelsey Capps is a writer and Reader in Residence at The Wild Detectives. Her short stories and reviews have been mentioned in a variety of publications including Hobo Pancakes, Literary Hub, and The Guardian, and she is finishing her second novel. You can follow her work and current reads on Instagram at @readwritethecraft.