Friday, November 21, 2008

Awards, New Books, Events, and Bolaño

In today's La Bloga:



Los Angeles-based United States Artists has announced the recipients of fifty USA Fellowships totaling $2.5 million.

Now in its third year, the fellowship program honors artists from all disciplines who demonstrate artistic excellence, unique vision, and significant contributions to their fields with unrestricted grants of $50,000. Past recipients include Su Teatro (Denver) artistic Director Anthony J. Garcia (click here for an interview with Mr. Garcia.)

Hailing from twenty-one states and ranging in age from 31 to 82, this year's fellows include five working in architecture and design, four in crafts and traditional arts, five in dance, nine in literature (fiction, nonfiction, and poetry), six in media (film and video), six in music, five in theater arts, and ten in visual arts.

Rosalba Rolón is the Artistic Director for El Teatro Pregones from the Bronx New York; she has directed her company at El Centro Su Teatro in the productions of El Bolero Fue Mi Ruina and El Apagon, and will return in 2010 with their acclaimed production of Immigrantes/Migrants. She is also the former Chair of the National Association of Latino Arts and Culture.

The USA website says this about Rolón:

Actor, director, writer, and dramaturge Rosalba Rolón is the founder and artistic director of Pregones Theater in the South Bronx. Since 1979 she has shared responsibility for building a distinct Latino musical theater repertory with more than 50 premier works. Pregones has taken its work around the world, with performances in Spain, Portugal, Russia, Mexico, Nicaragua, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, the Slovak Republic, and Puerto Rico. Rolón is an active teacher and advocate for young artists. She has received numerous awards for her work in the Latino community and was recently named the El Diario/La Prensa Outstanding Woman of the Year.

The 2008 USA Fellows include free-jazz pioneer Muhal Richard Abrams, conceptual artist Michael Asher, musician and Chinese pipa virtuoso Wu Man, playwright and hip-hop theater performer Will Power, pioneer artistic director Bill Rauch, installation artist Kara Walker, experimental architect Douglas Garofalo, traditional sweetgrass basket weaver Mary Jackson, legendary tap dancer Dianne Walker, Faulkner Award-winning novelist and short story writer Barry Hannah, and independent filmmaker William Greaves.

Artists drive our nation's cultural life and give voice to who we are and where we're headed, said Susan V. Berresford, United States Artists board chair and former president of the Ford Foundation, which helped to establish USA in 2006. Many of this country's two million artists struggle to make ends meet and, particularly in this challenging economic climate, it is essential to invest in our nation's finest creative voices.

Lisa Alvarado provided all the details for these awards in her post yesterday. I want to add my congratulations to the winners, and give a big tip of the sombrero to:

187 Reasons Mexicanos Can't Cross the Border: Undocuments 1971—2007 (Poetry & Short Stories) by Juan Felipe Herrera (City Lights)

The Stillness of Love and Exile (Fiction) by Rosa Martha Villarreal (Tertulia Press)

2666 by Roberto Bolaño
Farrar, Straus and Giroux; November, 2008

La Bloga has discussed Roberto Bolaño a few times. In my reviews, I praised Distant Star (New Directions, 2004) and a collection of stories, Last Evenings on Earth (New Directions, 2007). My comrade Michael Sedano reviewed The Savage Detectives, (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007) - suffice to say that Señor Sedano did not jump aboard the Bolaño bandwagon. I'm about halfway through Savage Detectives and I admit that I am feeling overwhelmed by the book. However, as a critic observed, many people who like Bolaño cannot tell you why. They disagree about why they like this writer and book; why they think he is important; and what his lasting influence may be. They agree only that they admire the writing. Put me in that camp. Reading Bolaño has become my guility pleasure, but I'm not sure why I should feel guilty.

The Savage Detectives is a wild tale centered on an unorganized group of young anti-establishment poets who think they have created a poetry movement that could dramatically change Spanish-language literature. Along the way they have to confront their own failures, tragedies, and disappointments - the defeat of their generation. Bolaño's disillusionment with the revolutionary fervor and eventual ineptitude of Latin American youth is one of the themes he returns to periodically in his books.

Now, in English, here comes Bolaño's opus - 912 pages translated by Natasha Wimmer. The publisher says:

Composed in the last years of Roberto Bolaño’s life, 2666 was greeted across Europe and Latin America as his highest achievement, surpassing even his previous work in its strangeness, beauty, and scope. Its throng of unforgettable characters includes academics and convicts, an American sportswriter, an elusive German novelist, and a teenage student and her widowed, mentally unstable father. Their lives intersect in the urban sprawl of Santa Teresa—a fictional Juárez—on the U.S.-Mexico border, where hundreds of young factory workers, in the novel as in life, have disappeared.

And here's one review (typical of the praise this book is getting):

Bolaño’s masterwork . . . An often shockingly raunchy and violent tour de force (though the phrase seems hardly adequate to describe the novel’s narrative velocity, polyphonic range, inventiveness, and bravery) based in part on the still unsolved murders of hundreds of women in Ciudad Juárez, in the Sonora desert near the Texas border. Francisco Goldman, The New York Review of Books

The Paris Enigma by Pablo De Santis
Harper; November 11, 2008

It is 1889, and the world anticipates the Paris World’s Fair and the opening of Monsieur Eiffel’s iconic tower. The Twelve Detectives—a society of the twelve most famous detectives from around the world—have been asked to discuss the secrets of their trade as part of the fair’s lineup of events. The Twelve travel to Paris to convene as a single body for the first time. But one detective is conspicuously absent: the legendary founding member of The Twelve, Renato Craig. In his place he sends his novice assistant, Sigmundo Salvatrio—son of a shoemaker, a lifelong detective-arts devotee, and the only remaining student of Craig’s famed Academy for Detectives in Buenos Aires. Salvatrio arrives in Paris, carrying a secret message meant only for Craig’s best friend and cofounder of The Twelve, the brilliant, brooding, and fiercely competitive Viktor Arzaky. De Santis won the inaugural Premio Planeta-Casa de América de Narrativa prize for best Latin American novel for The Paris Enigma.

From the Denver Woman's Press Club:

Celebrate a pre-Thanksgiving feast of multicultural stories, food and arts with Denver Woman Press Club members Reneé Fajardo and Anita Jepson-Gilbert.

Reneé is author of four books of true stories with recipes from all over the world. They are Holy Mole, Guacamole; Chili Today, Hot Tamale; Ole Posole; and Pinch a Lotta Enchiladas. Anita is the author of a bilingual book entitled Maria and The Stars of Nazca, about the mysterious Nazca line drawings in Peru and the woman who revealed them to the world.

Bring your own stories to share. Young readers are welcome as well. Free and open to all.

Where: Denver Woman's Press Club 1325 Logan St. Denver. Park in the lot north of the clubhouse. November 23 2-5 PM Contact: Bonnie McCune


Several of the authors who contributed to the Dozen on Denver literary project sponsored by the Rocky Mountain News will gather at the Tattered Cover Book Store (Colfax Avenue store) in Denver on November 22 at 2:00 PM. The writers will discuss the project and their individual stories, and sign their books, which the book store will have available. I hope you can make it.


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