Friday, March 30, 2007

Reading Others

John Mutford's Reader's Diaries on José Saramago's Blindness and Pablo Neruda's The Captain's Verses.

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The Sun Over Breda by Arturo Perez-Reverte

In the midst of the Dutch and Spanish dignitaries in the foreground of Diego Velázquez’s war tableau “The Surrender of Breda,” there is a small open space beneath one soldier’s horizontal weapon. It appears to depict the back of the soldier beside him. But it is the suggestion of Arturo Pérez-Reverte’s latest installment in his grandly entertaining Captain Alatriste series that Alatriste, he of the cold gray-green eyes and dauntless courage, was once part of the picture — although his likeness has since been excised.

Was he painted by Velázquez? The claim that he was comes from no less an authority than Íñigo Balboa, Alatriste’s hero-worshiping young companion. Íñigo also claims to have described to Velázquez the visual details of the surrender. Mr. Pérez-Reverte has shaped his third Alatriste book, “The Sun Over Breda,” around this famous painting. In contrast to the more narrative-driven earlier books, “Captain Alatriste” and “Purity of Blood,” this one unfolds on Flemish battlefields rather than in Spain.

So most of the series’s usual, highly enjoyable villainy has been put aside. Enchanting characters like Angélica de Alquézar, she of the “blond corkscrew curls and eyes as blue as the sky over Madrid,” with “a smile identical to the devil’s when, through Eve’s intercession, he tempted Adam to sink his teeth into the fabled apple,” will have to wait until next time.

Although Íñigo’s narration occasionally recapitulates earlier plots (and flashes forward to the time when he is much older, remembering these glory days), the present book’s action is ferociously combative. Mr. Pérez-Reverte, who was once a war correspondent, pieces together the bloody events that led to the Breda surrender in 1625.
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Ines of My Soul, by Isabel Allende

On 11 September 1541, people living in central Chile rebelled against the bearded "viracochas" who had recently established a fortified settlement called Santiago. Though the viracochas had arquebuses and horses, the warriors organised by the local leader Michimalonko were cleverly drilled. The governor of the fledgling city was tricked away by news of armed bands elsewhere. Michimalonko's men attacked, and almost destroyed Santiago.

This uprising is one of many set-pieces in Isabel Allende's new novel. Yet in her description of the 1541 uprising, she mentions the otherwise superfluous date of 11 September three times. For a Chilean living in California, it is imbued with significance: the date of Pinochet's overthrow of Allende in 1973, and, of course, 9/11. Working out its significance in Allende's story of the conquest of Chile becomes fundamental to understanding her brilliant novel.
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Thursday, March 29, 2007

Reading Others

Waggish on César Aira's An Episode in the Life of a Landscape Painter
Orbit Trap on Alberto Manguel's Reading Pictures.
Five Branch Tree on Alejandro González Iñárritu's Amores Perros
BrontëBlog on Carmen Laforet's Nada

Pedro Paramo on film

From Variety:
Alejandro Amenabar co-scribe Mateo Gil is teaming with Spain’s Sogecine and Ariete-Ariane and Portugal’s Take 2000 to write and direct a bigscreen adaptation of Juan Rulfo’s novel “Pedro Paramo,” a seminal work in modern Latin American literature.

Mexican Eugenio Caballero, who won an Academy Award this year for “Pan’s Labyrinth,” has been tapped as art director.

Gil and Caballero are scouting in Jalisco, Mexico, for a ghost village as the film’s key location.

Gil and Sogecine, the film production division of giant Spanish TV conglom Sogecable, worked as helmer and producer on Gil’s flamboyant debut, the 1999 Seville-set thriller “Nobody Knows Anybody.”

Producers of “Pedro Paramo’s” movie version aim to set it up as a Spain-Portugal-Mexico co-production to shoot largely in Mexico by late 2007 or early 2008.

The project’s challenges are less financial than artistic.

Rulfo’s 1955 “Pedro Paramo” follows narrator Juan Preciado to his mother’s native village of Comala, a dust-bowl hell. He only gradually cottons on to the fact that all the villagers he meets are dead.

“Pedro Paramo” had large influence on Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s “One Hundred Years of Solitude,” the cornerstone of magical realism.

But, rather like Marquez’s works, “Pedro Paramo” is thought a huge challenge for film adaptation: Gil himself calls the project “an act of daring.”

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Alfonso Cuarón Interview

For Alfonso Cuaron, it wasn't the complicated array of dazzling single shots that won his superb thriller, "Children of Men," an Oscar nomination for cinematography that the director found most difficult.

"I knew that somehow I would be able to solve the technical aspects — but the biggest problem was coming up with the world, with the social environment we were going to portray."

Based on the 1992 dystopian novel by P.D. James, "Children of Men" tells of a world 20 years in the future that is suffering from global infertility, but it pictures a world a lot like our own, only darker, more twisted and violent. It is a world bereft of hope and filled with terror. England has become fortress England, with armed patrols rounding up immigrants, who are sent off to camps, while insurgent groups bomb cafes and stores.

Meanwhile, the general populace — ghostly in their resignation — ensconces themselves in office cubicles, fretting over the death of a celebrity, the world's youngest person (not yet 19), killed by an angry fan.

"We were very clear we didn't want to convey information by exposition," says Cuaron ("Y Tu Mama Tambien," "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban"), who wanted to tell the story
visually. "And that had to do with the detail in the frame. We were aware that some detail was going to be subliminal, and some it was clear was going to be obvious. It was always a question of where and how and what was the reference in contemporary society that we're referencing."
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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

100 best novels written in Spanish in the past 25 years

Colombian magazine Semana published a list of the best Spanish language novels of the last 25 years. The list, complied by 80 writers, literary critics and journalists named the 100 best novels written in Spanish.

(...) exclusive as any list. Where is Jorge Volpi's "In Search of Klingsor"?
(sent by Stan Baker)

1. El amor en los tiempos del cólera [Love in the Time of Cholera], Gabriel García Márquez (Colombia, 1985)
2. La fiesta del Chivo [The Feast of the Goat], Mario Vargas Llosa (Peru, 2000)
3. Los detectives salvajes [The Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolaño], Roberto Bolaño (Chile, 1998)
4. 2666, Roberto Bolaño (Chile, 2004)
5. Noticias del imperio, Fernando del Paso (México, 1987)
6. Corazón tan blanco, Javier Marías (Spain, 1992)
7. Bartleby y Compañía [Bartleby & Co.], Enrique Vila-Matas (Spain, 2000)
8. Santa Evita [Santa Evita], Tomás Eloy Martínez (Argentina, 1995)
9. Mañana en la batalla piensa en mí [Tomorrow in the Battle Think On Me], Javier Marías (Spain, 1994)
10. El Desbarrancadero, Fernando Vallejo (Colombia, 2001)
11. La virgen de los sicarios [Our Lady of the Assassins], Fernando Vallejo (Colombia, 1994)
12. El entenado [The Witness], Juan José Saer (Argentina)
13. Soldados de Salamina [Soldiers of Salamis], Javier Cercas (Spain, 2001)
14. Estrella distante [Distant Star], Roberto Bolaño (Chile, 1996)
15. Paisaje después de la batalla, Juan Goytisolo (Spain, 1982)
16. La ciudad de los prodigios [The City of Marvels], Eduardo Mendoza (Spain, 1986)
17. El jinete polaco, Antonio Muñoz Molina (Spain, 1991)
18. El testigo, Juan Villoro (Mexico, 2004)
19. Salón de belleza, Mario Bellatin (Mexico, 2000)
20. Cuando ya no importe, Juan Carlos Onetti (Uruguay, 1993)
21. La tejedora de coronas, Germán Espinosa (Colombia, 1982)
22. El paraíso en la otra esquina, Mario Vargas Llosa (Peru, 2003)
23. Cae la noche tropical, Manuel Puig (Argentina, 1988)
24. Doctor Pasavento, Enrique Vila Matas (Spain, 2006)
25. Herrumbrosas lanzas, Juan Benet (Spain, 1983)
26. Empresas y tribulaciones de Maqroll el Gaviero, Álvaro Mutis (Colombia, 1993)
27. El invierno en Lisboa, Antonio Muñoz Molina (Spain, 1987)
28. Verdes valles, colinas rojas, Ramiro Pinilla (Spain, 2005)
29. Mal de amores, Ángeles Mastretta (Mexico, 1996)
30. Donde las mujeres, Álvaro Pombo (Spain, 1996)
31. El pasado, Alan Pauls (Argentina, 2003)
32. El rastro, Jorge Gómez Jiménez (Venezuela, 1993)
33. Santo oficio de la memoria, Mempo Giardinelli (Argentina, 1991)
34. Los años con Laura Díaz, Carlos Fuentes (Mexico, 1999)
35. Plenilunio, Antonio Muñoz Molina (Spain, 1997)
36. Todas las almas, Javier Marías (Spain, 1989)
37. Cartas cruzadas, Darío Jaramillo (Colombia, 1995)
38. La casa del padre, Justo Navarro (Spain, 1994)
39. La visita en el tiempo, Arturo Uslar Pietri (Venezuela, 1990)
40. La historia de Horacio, Tomás González (Colombia, 2000)
41. La grande, Juan José Saer (Argentina, 2005)
42. El arte de la fuga, Sergio Pitol (Mexico, 1996)
43. La velocidad de la luz, Javier Cercas (Spain, 2005)
44. Olvidado rey Gudu, Ana María Matute (Spain, 1997)
45. La gesta del marrano, Marco Aguinis (Argentina, 1991)
46. Un viejo que leía novelas de amor, Luis Sepúlveda (Chile, 1989)
47. Plata quemada, Ricardo Piglia (Argentina, 1997)
48. El vuelo de la reina, Tomás Eloy Martínez (Argentina, 2002)
49. Diablo guardián, Xavier Velasco (Mexico, 2003)
50. Igur Neblí, Miquel de Palol (Spain, 1994)
51. La nieve del almirante, Álvaro Mutis (Colombia, 1986)
52. Vigilia del almirante, Augusto Roa Bastos (Paraguay, 1992)
53. Un campeón desparejo, Adolfo Bioy Casares (Argentina, 1993)
54. Los pichiciegos, Fogwill (Argentina, 1993)
55. La burla del tiempo, Mauricio Electorat (Chile, 2004)
56. Una novela china, César Aira (Argentina, 1987)
57. El inútil de la familia, Jorge Edwards (Chile, 2004)
58. Lumperica, Diamela Eltit (Chile, 1983)
59. La otra mano de Lepanto, Carmen Boullosa (Mexico, 2005)
60. En estado de memoria, Tununa Mercado (Argentina, 1990)
61. Veinte años y un día, Jorge Semprún (Spain, 2003)
62. Ladrón de lunas, Isaac Montero (Spain, 1999)
63. La cuadratura del círculo, Álvaro Pombo (Spain, 1999)
64. No me esperen en abril, Alfredo Bryce Echenique (Peru, 1995)
65. Luna Caliente, Mempo Giardinelli (Argentina, 1983)
66. Una sombra ya pronto serás, Osvaldo Soriano (Argentina, 1990)
67. El cuarto mundo, Diamela Eltit (Chile, 1988)
68. La silla del Águila, Carlos Fuentes (Mexico, 2003)
69. Temblor, Rosa Montero (Spain, 1990)
70. Historia del silencio, Pedro Zarraluki (Spain, 1995)
71. Los fantasmas, César Aira (Argentina, 1990)
72. Angosta, Héctor Abad Faciolince (Colombia, 2003)
73. La muerte como efecto secundario, Ana María Shua (Argentina, 1997)
74. La orilla oscura, José María Merino (Spain, 1985)
75. La vida exagerada de Martín Romaña, Alfredo Bryce Echenique (Peru, 1981)
76. Sin remedio, Antonio Caballero (Colombia, 1984)
77. El tiempo de las mujeres, Ignacio Martínez de Pisón (Spain, 2003)
78. Al morir Don Quijote, Andrés Trapiello (Spain, 2005)
79. Glosa, Juan José Saer (Argentina, 1986)
80. Crónica de un iniciado, Abelardo Castillo (Argentina, 1991)
81. El traductor, Salvador Benesdra (Argentina, 2002)
82. Cumpleaños, César Aira (Argentina, 2001)
83. La sexta lámpara, Pablo de Santis (Argentina, 2005)
84. El embrujo de Shangai, Juan Marsé (Spain, 1993
85. El maestro de esgrima, Arturo Pérez Reverte (Spain, 1988)
86. Carreteras secundarias, Ignacio Martínez de Pisón (Spain, 1996)
87. Rosario Tijeras, Jorge Franco (Colombia, 1999)
88. La sombra del viento, Carlos Ruiz Safón (Spain, 2001)
89. Camino a la perdición, Luis Mateo Díez (Spain, 1995)
90. A sus plantas rendido un león, Osvaldo Soriano (Argentina, 1988)
91. Memorias de mis putas tristes, Gabriel García Márquez (Colombia, 2005)
92. Autómata, Adolfo García Ortega (Spain, 2006)
93. Del amor y otros demonios, Gabriel García Márquez (Colombia, 1994)
94. Ella cantaba boleros, Guillermo Cabrera Infante (Cuba, 1996)
95. La novela luminosa, Mario Levrero (Uruguay, 2005)
96. La guerra de Galio, Héctor Aguilar Camín (Chile, 1994)
97. Arráncame la vida, Ángeles Mastreta (Mexico, 1998)
98. Arturo, la estrella más brillante, Reinaldo Arenas (Cuba, 1984)
99. La orilla africana, Rodrigo Rey Rosa (Guatemala, 1999)
100. Los vigilantes, Diamela Eltit (Chile, 1994)

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Review: The Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolaño

"God bless them, they were so young, with their hair down to their shoulders and carrying all those books.” This wistful observation comes from an aging, drunken, failed poet in The Savage Detectives, the grand novel that made Roberto Bolaño famous in Latin America when it was published in 1998. The tension between vitality and its erosion—between youth’s gorgeous recklessness and its inevitable decay—fuels this remarkable book and fills it with an aching sadness.

When Bolaño, a peripatetic Chilean who also lived in Mexico and Spain, died of liver failure in 2003, at the age of 50, he left behind 10 novels and three short-story collections, all written in the last decade of his life. His major works are The Savage Detectives and 2666, a massive posthumous novel which will be published in English for the first time next year.
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Meet the Visceral Realists: a razor-tongued, pot-smoking, self-obsessed gang of horny Mexican poets. There's Ulises Lima, a vagabond who infects his gracious hosts with scabies. And Luscious Skin, a lothario who recounts a "butt-lashing" sexual encounter over four very detailed pages. They're the anti-heroes in The Savage Detectives (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $27), a bizarre and mesmerizing novel by the late Chilean-born author Roberto Bolano.

Just now published in English, the book is a fist-to-gut introduction to a deceptively powerful writer who died at age 50 in 2003. It's a lustful story--lust for sex, lust for self, lust for the written word. On a self-destructive quest to figure out what the hell their own movement is even about, the gangster poets swing you from Mexico to Paris and back, eluding murderous pimps, plotting revolutions, and having lots and lots of sex along the way.
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Gabriel García Márquez at the International Congress of Spanish Language.

"To think that a million people would read something written in the solitude of my room with 28 letters of the alphabet and two fingers as my sole arsenal seems insane"

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The World Spanish Language Congress started yestarday in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia.
King Juan Carlos I of Spain and Colombian President Alvaro Uribe will open the congress, alongside Nobel prizewinner in Literature Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
Mexican Carlos Fuentes, Spaniards Antonio Muñoz Molina and Spanish Language Royal Academy director Victor Garcia de la Concha, Argentinean Eloy Martinez and former President Belisario Betancurt will be at the podium along with Marquez.

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Monday, March 26, 2007

The Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolaño post has been updated.

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Mexican novelist Carlos Fuentes' novel "The Crystal Frontier" is being adapted to film. The script was written by Spanish Fernando León Rodríguez under Fuentes supervision.

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Review: Body Rice directed by Hugo Vieira da Silva

Portuguese filmmaker Hugo Vieira da Silva makes a bold transition from doc shorts to "Body Rice," a debut feature that skirts the edges of narrative and palpably conveys the drift and anomie of young Germans sent to an "alternative" community in southern Portugal. Local January opening spawned a public debate over the pic, and wide fest embrace (including prizes in Locarno and Mexico City) will lead to further notoriety and possible arthouse distrib buys.

Vieira da Silva smoothly joins the esteemed company of other young Iberoamerican helmers like Lisandro Alonso ("Los Muertos"), Albert Serra ("Honor de Cavalleria") and Paz Encina ("Paraguayan Hammock"), interested more in image and sound than psychology and dramatics.

Cast of pro German and Portuguese thesps is asked to work largely without words -- the nearly two-hour film contains less than 10 minutes of spoken dialogue, much of that in brief fragments -- and let their bodies do the talking. But the intensely observant manner in which the final results are put onscreen commands similarly intense involvement from viewers primed for a kind of "silent" cinema with sound.
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Friday, March 23, 2007

Stan Persky reviews Alberto Manguel's "The Library at Night", John Sutherland's "How to Read a Novel" and Francine Prose's "Reading Like a Writer", three books on reading and readers.

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The Feast of the Goat

(...) This is a brilliant, but hard novel. Vargas Llosa deals brilliantly with the psychological profile of a people that admires the dictators and allows them, consequently, all the excesses. Essential.

(sent by Leff)

Interview with Daniel Alarcón

This is the world Daniel Alarcón has created in his first novel, Lost City Radio. Born in Peru but raised in Birmingham, Ala., Alarcón often visited relatives in Lima when the Peruvian troops were engaged by the guerilla outfit, Shining Path.
Even now, he cannot completely fathom what happened.
"To a certain extent, it's unimaginable to me," he says. "I've gone back to collect the stories and talk to people, but I haven't lived through these things I described. The process of writing the story - it was all about keeping myself in it, in that world. ... And I agree, it's not necessarily a world I want to hang out in."
Nevertheless, it was a story he felt compelled to write. The title refers to a radio program in which the names of missing people are read. Norma is the beguiling host. Her voice is "her greatest asset, her career and her fate," bringing hope to people desperate to find their lost loved ones.
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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The Basque writer Bernardo Atxaga announced during an interview with Basque radio Euskadi Irratia he will publish in April a new book, entitled Markak. Gernika 1937.
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Monday, March 19, 2007

Review: Amulet by Roberto Bolaño

Just out is a short novel called Amulet, which puts his poetic way with language — at least as rendered, presumably faithfully, by translator Chris Andrews — on vivid display.

The narrator is Auxilio Lacouture, a Uruguayan by birth, who settled in Mexico in the 1960s and may or may not be the mother of Mexico poetry. Throughout this short novel she spools out her memories of the Bohemian life in Mexico City. There are café scenes and dangerous liaisons on the wrong side of town.

But also woven into the novel — it’s driving force, perhaps — is a reflection of a period of political unrest and terror. For a dozen or so days, it seems, Auxilio hid in a women’s restroom in the department of philosophy at the university, becoming the lone survivor of a police roundup of some kind.

These memories keep returning to her consciousness as she tells her tale, visions of hunger, thirst and the moonlight on the white tiles of the washroom. Time collapses and pulls apart, but the narrative often comes back to that moonlight.

Among Auxilio’s acquaintances is a young immigrant poet, Arturo Belano, who apparently is a stand-in for our author, Bolaño.

The spirit of Jorge Luis Borges hovers over this book, and even as it loses itself in a kind of poetic mist, you can find yourself absorbed by its voice and the mysterious charm of its central character. Bolaño and his work are worth discovering.
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Review: The Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolaño

And then I never saw him again”: this phrase recurs with eerie frequency in the work of the Chilean-born writer Roberto Bolaño, who died four years ago, in Barcelona, at the age of fifty. In Bolaño’s ten novels and three story collections—all completed in his torrential final decade, before he succumbed to a chronic liver ailment that he suspected would seal his fate—characters go through life in a state of agitated migration. They sever friendships, quit jobs, abandon apartments without giving notice, skip the return flight home, assume new identities, flee combustive love affairs, cut off ties to everyone they have ever known, head off into the desert, simply disappear.
Relationships, in Bolaño’s world, tend to be febrile but fleeting, yielding memories suffused by the afterglow of emotion; his narratives are often the testimonies of people the wanderers leave behind. It’s no coincidence that Bolaño’s most heartbreaking creation—the rebellious, doomed poet at the heart of his 1998 masterwork, “The Savage Detectives,” which Farrar, Straus has just published in translation—is named Ulises.
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This was the first book I read by Roberto Bolaño and of that I got addicted to his prose. They say that Bolaño is the new Cortazar… could be. This is the history of two Mexican young poets the “wild detectives”, Their mission to track down the poet Cesarea Tinajero. And this search extends in the time, and spans beyond the Mexican borders taking us to Guatemala, Barcelona, Paris, Israel, Congo, Liberia, and the U.S. and intercrosses numberless stories. That is, in my opinion, the best thing of Bolaño: those thousand histories that intermingle in the plot and where you can find everything: love stories, crimes, humorous anecdotes…(...)
(sent by Nelly)

Friday, March 16, 2007

Review: Dancing to "Almendra" by Mayra Montero

In a time long, long ago before the nation state of the Bahamas captured American media attention due to one Anna Nicole Smith, another Caribbean country riveted our gaze: Cuba. Today Cuba boils down to the three C’s: cigars, Castro, and classic cars. In the 50s, as Mayra Montero suggests in her sixth novel, Dancing to "Almendra", Cuba’s national identity was intertwined with our own.

Cuban-born novelist Montero creates a delightful narrative of Havana in 1957. An entertainment reporter for the local rag, Joaquin Porrata, is assigned to cover the brutal slaughter of a hippo at the Havana Zoo. While covering this story, the zookeeper hints that the animal’s death was actually a message for Mafioso Umberto “Albert” Anastasia who was killed the same day in a New York barbershop. Porrata realizes that the hippocide could be an indicator of the turf war emerging between new restaurateurs, hoteliers, and casino operators in the plush and flush nation.
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Cuban poet and essayist Fina García Marruz won the Ibero-American Pablo Neruda Poetry Prize. The award will be presented by President Michelle Bachelet during the Ibero-American Culture Ministers Summit, in July in Santiago de Chile.

Fina García Marruz was born in Havana, April 28, 1923. She his the winner of the National Literature Prize in 1990.

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Thursday, March 15, 2007

Conversation Piece (1998) sculpture by Juan Muñoz

Juan Muñoz (1953 - 2001) began his career in the mid-1970s, and gained international recognition as an artist, a curator, and a writer of art criticism and prose. Drawing upon a wide range of sources-literature, music, art history, theater and film-Muñoz's work explored the ways in which architecture and sculpture can weave powerful, open-ended narratives that involve the viewer on both a visceral and intellectual level. Throughout his career, Muñoz revisited certain visual themes-a balcony, a streetscape, patterned floors, the ballerina, the dwarf-which link a diverse body of work that includes drawing, sculpture, installation, performance, and sound-based works. He created his first Conversation Piece in late 1990, shortly after he began to incorporate the human figure into his sculptural installations.

Muñoz was born in Madrid, and studied at University of Madrid, Croydon College in London, and the Pratt Graphic Center in New York. In June 2001, Muñoz realized his most ambitious project ever, Double Bind, a site-specific installation for the Turbine Hall of the Tate Modern, London. Muñoz's first-ever American career retrospective originated last year at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C., and is traveling nationally through March 2003. Muñoz's work has also been presented at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin (1994); Dia Center for the Arts, New York (1996); and Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid (1996).

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Portuguese director Manoel de Oliveira, has begun shooting his latest film, "Christopher Columbus: The Enigma,".

The film is based on the book "Cristóvão Colombo Era Português" (Columbus was Portuguese), by Manuel Luciano da Silva and Silvia Jorge da Silva, which claims that Columbus was born in a small town in Portugal's hinterland, called Cuba, in whose honor he named the island of Cuba.

The film will be shot in the U.S. and Portugal and it's premiere is scheduled for July in Washington.

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Two giants of literature, one black eye and 30 years of silence

It is possibly the most famous literary feud of modern times: Gabriel García Márquez, the Nobel prize-winning author, and Mario Vargas Llosa, his fellow giant of Latin American literature, have refused to talk to each other for three decades.

Once great friends, the two writers have steadfastly refused to talk about the reasons behind their spectacular bust-up, and so have their wives.

Now two pictures have appeared in which a youthful García Márquez shows off a black eye, and the photographer who took them has shed light on the origins of the feud. Not surprisingly, perhaps, it involves a woman.

Rodrigo Moya, a close friend of García Marquez, took the black-and-white pictures in 1976 but has kept them secret until this week. He decided to publish them to coincide with García Marquez’s 80th birthday and has broken his silence in a tongue-in-cheek account of the night in which GarcÍa Marquez and Vargas Llosa brawled, entitled “The Horrific Story of the Black Eye”.

The photographs, which first appeared in La Jornadain Mexico show a shiner under GarcÍa Márquez’s left eye and a cut on his nose. In one, the Colombian novelist is looking deadly serious. In the other, he grins broadly from under his moustache, as if acknowledging that the picture would one day become a classic.

According to Mr Moya, various Latin American artists and intellectuals had gathered in Mexico City for a film premiére in 1976. After the film, García Márquez went to embrace his close friend, Vargas Llosa. “Mario!” he managed to say, before receiving a “tremendous blow” to the face from the Peruvian author.

“How dare you come and greet me after what you did to Patricia in Barcelona!” Vargas Llosa reportedly shouted, referring to his wife.

Amid the screams of some women, García Marquez sat on the floor with a profusely bleeding nose, as the Mexican writer Elena Poniatowska ran to get a steak for his eye. Two days later, Mr Moya took the photos of his friend’s black eye.

The long feud between the two literary heavyweights has also been one of the most colourful. The two men had been close friends – so much so that Mr García Márquez is godfather to Mr Vargas Llosa’s second son, Gabriel.

After the cinema fight, however, the two stopped speaking and embarked on radically different paths. García Marquez stuck to his Leftist leanings, developing a close friendship with the Cuban leader Fidel Castro. Vargas Llosa became an ardent admirer of Margaret Thatcher and ran for President of Peru on a Right-wing platform. He has been one of President Castro’s most outspoken critics.
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Monday, March 12, 2007

Spanish author Luis Leante was Friday awarded the Alfaguara Spanish literary prize for his novel "Mira Si Yo Te Querré".

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Friday, March 09, 2007

The Independent Foreign Fiction Prize

The short list for The Independent Foreign Fiction Prize was released, with Portuguese and Spanish languages represented by Angolan José Eduardo Agualusa and Spanish Javier Marías.


The Book of Chameleons, by José Eduardo Agualusa

In Angola, an observant gecko watches as the albino Felix Ventura supplies new biographies to his guilty or vulnerable clients. We (and the gecko) hear their stories as the spy, the photographer or the minister try to re-fashion troubled lives amid the turmoil of post-colonial Africa. Humorous and quizzical, with a light touch on weighty themes, the narrative darts about with lizard-like colour and velocity.
Your Face Tomorrow, 2: Dance and Dream, by Javier Marías

It stands alone as a self-sufficient work, but this novel is also the mid-point of a trilogy. In a brilliantly drawn London, Deza works for an obscure espionage outfit, a watcher unsure of his mission and his unfathomable boss. In the sinuous, gorgeous prose of a true virtuoso of European fiction, scenes of offbeat comedy gives way to memories of horror, and incidents from the Spanish Civil War summon up all the unquiet dead.
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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Roberto Matta - Nacimiento de América (The Birth of America)

Monday, March 05, 2007

Colombian Writer Mario Mendoza's novel Satanás(2002), has been adapted to a movie directed by Andrés Baiz.

This drama interweaves several stories about a priest, a con woman and an English teacher, all of whom want more from life than what it can offer. As each is tempted by a taste of their deepest desires, their character is tested to the core.

Mario Mendoza received the Premio Biblioteca Breve, from Editorial Seix Barral, one of the most prestigious prizes in the Spanish literary world, with Satanás.

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Casa de América in Madrid pays tribute to Colombian author, Gabriel García Márquez, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature 25 years ago and who celebrates his 80th birthday tomorrow.

The homage, which started at 9am this morning and is expected to last for around sixteen hours, consists of a public reading of his best-known novel 'A hundred years of solitude' (1967), at the Palacio de Linares that is the headquarters of the Casa de América in Madrid.

Each reader will complete a fifteen minute stint, during which they are expected to get through around seven pages.

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Interview with Daniel Alarcon

Daniel Alarcón may be the model for a certain kind of future great American novelist. Born in Peru, raised in Alabama and educated at Columbia, Alarcón, 29, writes in English about events happening back home in his native Lima.

His debut novel, "Lost City Radio," depicts the trauma inflicted upon a society when its men and women "are disappeared." The tale takes its title from a popular radio show in what Alarcón calls "the provincial capital" of a fictional Latin American country. Each Sunday, the station broadcasts the names of the missing.

As the book begins, a boy travels from a remote village to the capital with a list of names to be read on air — and it turns out one of the names is one near and dear to the show's journalist host.

Alarcón, visiting New York from his home in Oakland, Calif., spoke about his novel just days before Granta magazine named him one of the 21 best young novelists in America.
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Book Review: Lost City Radio by Daniel Alarcon

Daniel Alarcón writes with a poet's heart and a reporter's skill. He began researching the book in 1999, interviewing those who'd survived the violence that tore through his native Peru, and studying other conflicts around the globe. His journalism paid off. "Lost City Radio" is filled with startling images that are impossible to shake: A boy from the rain forest longs to see the ocean, not to play in the surf, but to search for his mother's battered body. Government soldiers bury prisoners to their necks, then urinate on their faces. Rebels lop off a man's hands while his children watch.

But all is not carnage and cruelty. Alarcón understands the yin/yang of warfare and its aftermath, and describes with beautiful, succinct prose how opposing sensibilities - loyalty and treachery, tenderness and brutality - can co-exist in the same body, the same place, like dandelions poking through chunks of broken asphalt.
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Interview with Alberto Fuguet

(Writer and filmmaker Alberto Fuguet appeared in the late 1990s as one of the most notable exponents of the so-called New Chilean Narrative. His style is a sarcastic response to the Latin American magical realism literature genre and it often portrays its characters as individuals who have suddenly lost all identity and self-assertiveness. By these means, Fuguet is able to summarize Chilean society’s biggest cultural dilemmas.

(In this interview with La Nación, Alberto Fuguet talks about his latest book, “Apuntes autistas (Autistic notes),” a collection of random notes made by the author since 1994, and his next steps in filmmaking.)

QUESTION: Do you still see writing as a form of salvation?
ALBERTO FUGUET: There is something of faith in this. I think all narrations-- books, music, records, movies, or TV series--are good for your balance. They help. They accompany you. They are like those emergency help phone lines. They are your best friends when you have no friends left or can’t go to them or you just don’t want to bother anyone.
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Friday, March 02, 2007

Basque writer Jon Juaristi (Bilbao, 1951) wins the Premio Azorín with his first novel “La Caza Salvaje”.

In the novel, Juaristi uses a myth of infernal hunters of the forest to tell the life of a Basque priest that decides that to survive, in the period between the Spanish Civil War and the birth of ETA, he must lie and betray.

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Daniel Alarcón in Granta's Best Young American Novelists list.

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Interview with Viggo Mortensen about his role in the movie Alatristedirected by Agustín Díaz Yanes and based on the novel series written by Arturo Pérez-Reverte.

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