Saturday, December 16, 2006

Interview with Alvaro Mutis

Interview with Colombian writer Alvaro Mutis.
Alvaro Mutis, one of the most beloved and esteemed of Latin American authors in the Spanish-speaking countries and throughout Europe, is not as well known here in the United States.

That's probably because he isn't easy to categorize: neither magic realist nor political novelist nor regionalist nor confectioner of folkloric whimsies. For most of his writing life, his reputation has been as a poet–one forced to earn his living at a variety of professions while making his home in Mexico rather than his native Colombia. The Mexican writer Juan Villoro once remarked that his Latin American generation grew up with the voice of Alvaro Mutis: for years Mutis did the voice-over narration for the Spanish-language version of The Untouchables. In an astonishing burst, from 1986 to 1993, Mutis wrote seven novellas that have been published all over the world, winning major prizes everywhere, including two of Spain's most important literary honors, the Príncipe de Asturias and Reina Sofia (for poetry), in 1997. In the United States, the novellas were published in two collections, Maqroll and The Adventures of Maqroll. Essentially, the novellas follow the enigmatic, eccentrically learned, seductive, eternally transient seaman-adventurer Maqroll, "el Gaviero" (the lookout), and his friends on their tangled exploits, usually outside the margin of the law, through seedy ports and tropical backwaters. The world of Maqroll–though not confined to any one place–is as unique and whole a creation, as much a region of the imagination, as the Macondo of Gabriel García Márquez.
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