I’m Peruvian, the general arc of the war as it unfolds in the novel is similar to that of the Peruvian conflict, and everyone will be able to recognize this. Still, the more I’ve traveled, the more places I’ve seen and people I’ve talked to, the more it has become clear to me that the forces shaping the future of a city like Lima are at work in developing countries all over the planet. When I was on tour last, for War by Candlelight, I always found myself saying, “If Peru was an invented country, and Lima an invented city, many people would still recognize it,” and I guess I sort of followed my own advice. I invented a country, a city, drew upon my experiences in Lima, upon my travels in West Africa, upon texts I read about Chechnya (the incomparable Anna Politkovskaya, RIP), or Beirut, or Mumbai. I was influenced and deeply inspired by the work of Joe Sacco as well, whose books on Palestine and Bosnia are truly masterful. The liberty to call on all kinds of sources was freeing: I came across a book called Memoirs of an Italian Terrorist, possibly apocryphal, but it rang so true when compared with the interviews I had done in Peru and Bolivia, that I felt confident referencing it in my attempt to create a composite of what that life might have been like.
Read Daniel Alarcón’s interview at The Elegant Variation
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Latin American Literature