Program in Comparative Literature

"Writers from the South in the North"

Fri, October 28, 2016 | CLA 1.302E

4:00 PM - 7:00 PM

event poster
event poster

“Writers from the South in the North” is an event organized by a group of graduate students from the Iberian and Latin American Literatures and Cultures program in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese. The main purpose of this event is to bring attention to writers who were born and raised in South America, migrated to the U.S. and currently live and write there.

We have chosen to invite Rodrigo Hasbún and Leonardo García Pabón from Bolivia, Sergio Chefjec and Gisela Heffes from Argentina, Lina Meruane from Chile and José de Piérola from Perú. These authors are representative of two waves of migrations from South America to the United States. The first is related to political conflicts in this area during the 1980-1990s. The second is connected to (re)democratization processes beginning in the 1990s in the same region. During the end of the twentieth century, the first wave of writers arrived in the U.S and built new academic spaces for Latin American thinkers and writers. Within the United States academic setting Latin Americans were able to foster a critical approach to Latin American literary studies. Once these spaces were developed, the connections amongst the intellectuals between North and South strengthened, and this allowed the emergence of a next generation of intellectuals.

Meruane, Heffes, García Pabón, de Piérola, Chefjec, and Hasbún are all writers and intellectuals that form this next generation and their works reflect concerns with bodies that migrate. It is no surprise then to see this theme interwoven throughout all of these texts and how they are consistently written into the works of these authors. Their experiences allow us to question if literature is a static territory or if it is much more productive to think of it as a body in motion. How do these diasporic texts, that circulate and migrate, dialogue with the distinct spaces from which they are from? How is the author’s gaze affected by their migration to the United States? What is the singularity of this perspective in comparison with authors that live within the former’s territory? What is the contribution of this gaze in a diasporic context?

Furthermore, within the neoliberal context it is imperative to think about the relations these authors establish with the literary market. In this sense, it is important to understand how these writers relate to publishing houses, literary critics (in their own countries and abroad), and academic critics. As authors who produce works in a diasporic context, what role does translation play in impacting the reading of their texts by a variety of audiences? Furthermore, how does writing in the United States’ academic setting create or influence literary markets for these author’s work amongst both Spanish speaking and non-Spanish speaking audiences? What is the significance of publishing in Spanish in the United States?   

As evidenced by this last paragraph, this event has already raised several questions that we hope to answer during the two days the authors will be in Austin.

José de Piérola

José de Piérola is the author of Máquina del tiempo (2015), Pishtaco Slayer (2011), Un beso del infierno (2010), Summa caligramática (2009), Sur y Norte (2008), El camino de regreso (2007), Shatranj: El juego de los reyes (2005). He has translated into Spanish The Art of Fiction by Walter Besant and Henry James (2007). His novel Un beso del infierno won the Short Novel Prize awarded by the Reserve Bank of Peru, his short story “In the Belly of the Night” won the Max Aub International Short Story Award in Spain, and his short story “Lápices” won the Short Story Biennial awarded by Copé in Peru. He earned a Ph.D. in Literature at the University of California, San Diego. His work revolves around issues of displacement, immigration and political violence, but he is also interested in the construction of the self and cultural misunderstanding.

Sergio Chejfec was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1956. He writes novels, essays, poetry and short stories. He lived in Venezuela from 1990 to 2005 where he published Nueva Sociedad, a journal about politics, culture and social sciences. Some of his most famous novels are Lenta biografía (Puntosur, 1990), Los planetas (Alfaguara, 1999), Boca de lobo (Alfaguara, 2000), Mis dos mundos (Alfaguara, 2008), La experiencia dramática (Alfaguara, 2012) and Modo linterna (Entropía, 2013). He was a recipient of the Guggenheim Fellowship (2001) and a Resident of the Civitella Ranieri Foundation. He currently teaches at the Spanish Creative Writing program at New York University.

Rodrigo Hasbún was born in Cochabamba, Bolivia in 1981. He writes novels, short stories, and has also participated in film projects. He went to journalism school in Bolivia. He did graduate studies at Barcelona (2004-2005) and he holds a Ph.D in Spanish from Cornell University. Hasbún has published the short stories books Cinco (Gente Común, 2006), Los días más felices (Duomo, 2012), Cuatro (El Cuervo, 2014) and Nueve (Demipage, 2014), and the novels El lugar del cuerpo (Fondo Editorial Municipalidad de Santa Cruz, 2007) and Los afectos (Random House, 2015). In 2008, the british magazine Granta selected him as one of the best 22 writers under the age of 35. He has received the awards Premio Nacional de Literatura Santa Cruz de la Sierra (El lugar del cuerpo, 2007), Premio Unión Latina a la Novísima Narrativa Breve Hispanoamericana (2008), and the Premio de Guion de Literatura y Cine Petrobras (Los viejos, written with film maker Martín Boulocq and based in Hasbún’s short story Carretera).

Gisela Heffes is an associate professor in the Spanish department at Rice University in Houston. She got her Ph.D. in Latin American Literatures and Cultures (2007) from Yale University. Her research areas are Latin American literature, film and culture, and Jewish literature and culture. Some of her research interests are theories of space and urban imaginaries, utopian studies, environmental studies and discourses on nature. She has written the book Políticas de la destrucción / Poéticas de la preservación (Beatriz Viterbo, 2013). She has published essays in journals such as Cuadernos de Literatura, Revista de Crítica Literaria Latinoamericana, among others. Also, she has published in Literal, a forum for Latin American creative expression.

Leonardo García Pabón, poet, screenwriter and literary critic was born in Bolivia in 1953. He studied literature in La Paz and he holds a Ph.D in Literature from Minnesota. Now he teaches Latin American Literature at the Department of Romance Language at the University of Oregon. His research interests focus on Andean and Bolivian literatures, and specifically in collective subjects —such as national subjects, or mestizo identities— as represented and criticized in Latin American literature. He has Publisher the book La patria íntima. Alegorías nacionales en la literatura y el cine de Bolivia (1999), and De Incas, Chaskañawis, Yanakunas y Chullas. Estudios sobre la novela mestiza en los Andes. (2007). He is the Director of Letras Fundacionales, a series dedicated to recover and edit classical Bolivian literary texts, published by Plural Editores in La Paz. As part of this collections he has edited Obra drámatica by Jaime Saenz (2005); Relatos de Potosí. Antología de la Historia de la Villa Imperial de Potosí by Bartolomé Arzáns Orsúa y Vela (2001); and Intimas by Adela Zamudio (1999). He has published in Bolivia, Colombia and Spain.

Lina Meruane, writer, journalist, playwright, and literary critic was born in Santiago, Chile in 1970. She received her Ph.D. in Spanish-American Literature from New York University. In 2004, she was awarded the Guggenheim Fellowship for her novel Fruta podrida. Later, in 2010 she was given the National Endowment for the Arts to write her novel Sangre en el ojo. This novel was well received and later granted the Premio Anna Seghers (2011) and the twentieth Premio Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz. Besides the two aforementioned texts, Meruane has also published Póstuma (2000) and Cercada (2000). As a literary critic, she has published Viajes virales: la crisis del contagio global en la escritura del sida (2012), Volverse palestina (2013) and Contra los hijos (2014). Meruane currently teaches Creative Writing at New York University. 

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