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The Making of the Great Bolaño: The Man and the Myth
Panel discussion with author Ben Ehrenreich; Barbara Epler, president, New Directions; author Mónica Maristain; and poet-translator David Shook
Moderated by Héctor Tobar, staff writer, Los Angeles Times
"Books are the only homeland of the true writer, books that may sit on shelves or in the memory," wrote Roberto Bolaño. Ten years after his death, the legacy of Chilean author Roberto Bolaño lives not just in his poetry and prose, but also in the myth that surrounds a man who has come to define 21st century Latin American literature. This panel delves into the Bolaño mystique, convening the voices that have engaged both with his words and his ghosts.
Ben Ehrenreich is the author of two novels, Ether and The Suitors and many articles, stories, and essays. He notes Bolaño as having influenced him as a writer; his essay "Appearing and Disappearing Like True Poetry" can be found here.
Barbara Kennedy Epler is editor-in-chief, president and publisher of New Directions, an independent publisher founded in 1936. Among her many responsibilities are acquiring new authors, such as W.G. Sebald and Roberto Bolaño, as well as other great writers like Laszlo Krasnahorkhai ,Victor Pelevin, Inger Christensen, Yoel Hoffmann, Yoko Tawada, and Javier Marías. New Directions publishes about 40 new books a year and maintains more than a 1,000 titles on their backlist, publishing a great deal of fiction and poetry in translation as well as American experimental poets.
Mónica Maristain is an editor, journalist, and writer. She was born in Argentina and has lived in Mexico for the past 13 years. She has written for numerous national and international publications, including the Argentine magazines Clarín, Página 12 and La Nación, as well as Playboy. In 2010 she contributed to the anthology I’ll Write It Tomorrow: Authors of the 60s, and published Roberto Bolaño: The Last Interview and Other Conversations. The interview is included in New Direction’s posthumous publication (Roberto Bolaño) Between Parenthesis. Maristain is the author of the Bolaño biography, El Hijo de Mister Playa: Uma semblanza de Roberto Bolaño.
David Shook studied endangered languages in Oklahoma and poetry at Oxford. His debut poetry collection, Our Obsidian Tongues, explores the multiplicity of voices that inhabit Mexico City. His many translations include Roberto Bolaño’s Infrarealist manifesto, Mario Bellatin’s novellas, and Víctor Terán’s poetry from the Isthmus Zapotec. He served as Translator in Residence for the Poetry Parnassus, where he premiered his poetry documentary Kilómetro Cero, covertly filmed in Equatorial Guinea. Shook grew up in Mexico City, but now lives in Los Angeles, where he edits Molossus and Phoneme Books.
Héctor Tobar has worked as a journalist for the Los Angeles Times for nearly twenty years. He shared a Pulitzer Prize for the paper’s coverage of the 1992 riots, and then served as the national Latino Affairs correspondent, the Buenos Aires bureau chief, and the Mexico City bureau chief. He is currently a book critic for the Los Angeles Times and is the author of three books: Translation Nation, The Tattooed Soldier, and the award-winning The Barbarian Nurseries. His non-fiction novel about the story of the Chilean miners is forthcoming. The son of Guatemalan immigrants, Tobar is a native of the city of Los Angeles.