Friday, July 11, 2008

EXCLUSIVE: La Semana Negra XXI in Gijón, Spain

Daily reports from Crime Fiction's international big-bash

Manuel Ramos was busy this week in the Rocky Mtns., so I'm subbing today. This post concerns, coincidentally, two young readers who contacted us for different reasons, one literary, the other artistic. Though we lack a chat room, La Bloga occasionally helps readers make connections, sometimes with surprising results, as with this first case.

In January La Bloga posted a request from Thania Muñoz, a master's student of Latin American lit at Cal State Los Angeles (where she's editor of the Spanish Dept. blog) doing research to present at the Pacific Coast Council on Latin American Studies conference this November. She was interested in Mexican detective fiction and her research focuses on Jorge Ibargüengoitia’s novels.

As part of her research, this month she's attending the crime fiction symposium in Spain called La Semana Negra. Monday's contributor, Dan Olivas, suggested she do posts about it for La Bloga. So she mentioned it to the organizers and guess what? They were very excited and sponsored and authorized her as a member of the press! We Bloguistas are thrilled with the possibilities.

Manuel Ramos is the only Bloguista who's attended La Semana Negra, the annual fiesta led by Paco Ignacio Taibo II in his hometown Gijón, located on Spain's northern coast--una celebración magnífica de crime-fiction. He could attest to what this once-in-a-lifetime experience is like. Thania's in an enviable situation and position.

You can find out more info about La Semana Negra in English or Spanish, or just follow Thania's postings for the next ten days or so. Buried amidst paella, Spanish wine and the plethora of international writers around her, she may be hard pressed to do a daily post. But, as you can see from her first messages below, she exhibits the type of youthful exuberance that promises she'll provide La Bloga readers with some unique and delightful postings. The logo below will introduce her postings each day; just scroll down til you find it.

Good luck, Thania; we know you'll do us proud. And don't let your duties interfere with enjoying the great experience at hand.

First message: I think I told you I’m leaving June 10th. I want to be there for Madrid’s festival of books and since one of my good friends is studying abroad in Madrid, I decided to leave earlier and get to know the city. I’ll be in Madrid June 11th and later leave for a short trip to Barcelona. According to the email I got from Alejandro De-Bernardi (in charge of La Semana Negra visiting press/reporters) I’ll be taking a train (the “Tren negro” or “black train”) from Madrid to Gijón on July 11th. I’ll be staying at the Hotel Don Manuel in Gijón, and they will provide me with transportation back to Madrid.

I should receive the list of invited writers and other attendees at the end of this month. The "Semana" starts the 11th and ends the 20th. According to De-Bernardi, he will put me in contact with writers that I would like to interview or answer other questions about the event. Also, Rodolfo Perez Valero, the Cuban writer, knows a lot of the people that attend every year, and he's going to email them so they can contact with me and help me out.

I have this great opportunity, so I decided to just go for it. If when I come back, I have to live in a one-room apartment and only eat beans with tortillas, pues, ni modo.

Thania Muñoz

Last message: La Semana Negra is getting closer! It starts this Friday. Yes, I can't believe it--the time is finally here. I’ll attend the press conference this Thursday and take the Tren Negro up north to Gijón, where the event is held, early Friday.

I could start sending posts as soon as Saturday. All events start at five in the afternoon or after, so I’ll have time to write and send you pictures during the day. Daniel had the great idea of having me write a post each day of La Semana Negra and then doing a final, more detailed piece at the end of the event.

Muchos saludos para todos,
Thania Muñoz

* * *

The second possible "connection" is the request below, which we post for informational purposes, since some La Bloga readers may find it of interest. Included are samples of the artist's artwork. You can contact him via his Email.

"Peace. My name is Robert Trujillo (aka “Tres”). I’m a 28-yr.-old muralist / illustrator from Oakland, Calif., currently residing in Brooklyn, NY. I have been drawing since elementary school, painting on walls since high school, painting canvases since college, and illustrating many stories since I became a father in 2004. My cultural background is African American, Korean, Mexican, Apache, Spanish, and probably others, which I’m still searching for. I’m an artist who believes in teaching and learning.

In 2003 I co-founded a collective of muralist/art educator/activists called Trust Your Struggle. We have done murals, workshops for youth organizations, and gallery installations nationwide. Two years ago we went to Mexico and Central America doing just that, and this year we plan to do it in Los Estados Unidos--New York, Atlanta, New Orleans, Texas, Arizona, y California.

I started an online group called 'Come Bien' Books, focusing on collaboration projects about Black and Latino art, writing, comics, health, zines, and children’s books. We work with all types of people, but encourage young writers and illustrators of color who are professional, intermediate, and beginning to express their thoughts verbally and visually. The purpose of the project is to increase literacy and creativity in young minds, paint a picture of the world we want to see, to abandon the major publishers of this art who do not reflect our culture or ideas, and to combat negative images of our people in major media.

My motivation is to be a positive and nurturing influence on my son. It is to honor my ancestors and family by passing on our visual art traditions, to give, to learn, to challenge the educational system, both public and private, and to ensure more artwork that fuses ethnic studies, political commentary, personal history, and dynamic visual styles using a variety of media that are prominent, loud, unapologetic, and just what some of us need.

I contacted La Bloga is to get connected with the Latin@ writers community, authors who have created books, which I read to my son. As a parent it's great to connect with folks and learn from them. As an artist, I'd like to work with some of you or collaborate on a book. I have been preparing for the last couple of years to do illustration full time. Even if I don't get to collaborate, it would be nice to just read, get inspired, share my work and hopefully inspire you. An exchange is the best way to describe my intention."

Robert Trujillo / Tres

Trust Your Struggle Collective / 'Come Bien' Books, CA-NYC


Daniel A. Olivas said...

What great words from Thania and Tres...youth is our future! Thank you, Rudy, for putting together these two pieces.

Francisco Aragón said...

Ditto, Rudy.

These were great. La Bloga truly is like our virtual Plaza.

msedano said...

Adelante, Thania! Looking forward to your dispatches from Gijón. Hope you meet lotsa of gente familiar with Ibargüengoitia’s work so your semana negra derives added productivity.


Lisa Alvarado said...

Thania and Tres...vaya! Keep up the energy, the good work and contact with us!

Anonymous said...

Felicidades Thania estare esperando tus posts con mucha anticipacion