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Priscilla Gac-Artigas
Priscilla Gac-Artigas

Two Chilean Writers and One Mexican Finalists of the ILBA in Translation Spanish to English 

On September 8, the award ceremony of the International Latino Book Award 2018 will be held in Los Angeles. The ILBA, established in 1997 by Edward James Olmos and Kirk Whistler, is considered the most important recognition celebrating achievements in Latino literature. The award honors books in multiple categories written in English, Spanish and Portuguese either by Latinos or about Latinos. 

In its twenty years of existence, works by writers such as Rodolfo Acuña, Alma Flor Ada, Isabel Allende, Rudy Anaya, José Antonio Burciaga, Denise Chavéz, Paulo Coelho, Dr. Camilo Cruz, Junot Díaz, Gabriel García Márquez, Reyna Grande, Oscar Tillers, Edna Iturralde, Mario Vargas Llosa, Josefina López, Pablo Neruda, Ana Nogales, Jose Luis Orozco, Alisa Valdes, Victor Villaseñor, U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera, Texas Poet Laureate Carmen Tafolla, and Los Angeles Poet Laureate Luis Rodriguez have been distinguished with the award. 

This year, two Chilean writers, Isabel Allende and Gustavo Gac-Artigas, and one Mexican, Manuel Iris have been selected finalists in the category of “best fiction book in translation from Spanish to English.” Allende’s distinguished book is In the Midst of Winter translated by Nick Caistor and Amanda Hopkinson, Atria Books; Gac-Artigas’ is And All of Us Were Actors, A Century of Light and Shadow translated by Andrea G. Labinger, Ediciones Nuevo Espacio; and Iris’, Translating Silence translated by Iris, Matt McBride, Erin Braun and Pat Brennan, Artepoética Press. 

In In the Midst of Winter we witness how the lives of three characters who, in a way, represent the human fabric that makes up today’s America: a Chilean visiting professor, an undocumented Guatemalan woman and the director of a language department at an American university intertwine in a novel about second opportunities at being happy in the country opportunities. 

And All of Us Were Actors, A Century of Light and Shadow takes us on a journey, sometimes fantastic, for the most relevant moments in the history of Latin American twentieth century. We accompany the protagonist, a somewhat Latin American Quixote traveling in a 36-ton truck as his Sancho on this voyage through the roads of the Cordillera in search of a place to live and create after a frustrated attempt to return to Chile years after being banned from his country. In his travel, our hero —at the same time protagonist and cast member, actor and witness — traverses natural sceneries, performs in international festivals, immerses the reader in dreadful torture chambers in his country, and shares with him his life in exile in Europe and his love for the theater and for la Bella entre las bellas. As we accompany the hero in his journey through the century’s political and social upheavals, and cultural effervescence, caressed by the lyricism of the text and shook by the chiaroscuro images, we, as readers, get to ponder about the role that we were assigned, or chose, to play in this Theatrum Mundi where, by choice or designation, all of us were actors. 

Translating Silence talks about the author’s “obsession with beauty, time, death and the bridges that marry them: silence and desire” (Mir). It is comprised of a selection of previously published texts by Manuel Iris, a collection that places him at the avant-garde of the new Latin American poetry in the United States.  

With more than 25,000 books published annually by Latino writers in this country, our cultural values expand and the written word guarantees their survival.

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