Alejandro Zambra Interview at the Millions

The Millions has a moderate length interview with Alejandro Zambra. There is a little bit about the Granta inclusion, his new book, and what he has thought of being published in English and Spanish at the same time.

TM: Recognizing that any list like Granta’s will be subjective, is there anyone you feel strongly should have been included, but wasn’t?

AZ: Such lists are always arbitrary, and I suppose there are a lot of authors who were worth including in Granta’s, and in the end were not.  The truth is it’s an uncomfortable subject for me, because I really don’t believe in lists or rankings.  In any case I’d like to highlight the work that younger people have been doing, such as the Chilean Diego Zúñiga or the Mexican Valeria Luiselli (the author of Papeles falsos, one of the best books I’ve read recently).

TM: Not many authors have their books published more or less simultaneously in Spanish and in English, but both La vida privada and Bonsai were.  I’m curious about how the experience is different in Chile and the U.S. How does your status as a native or foreigner affect how people read you, do you think?  Do you feel more pressure to be “representative” in some way when you are outside of Chile?

AZ: I think both novels are very Chilean, so I’m sometimes surprised that they can be read in other languages.  To me, it’s a beautiful thing that readers so distant and different can connect with a book of mine.  It’s like sending out thousands of letters, and little by little receiving replies you never expected.  I guess some readers in the U.S. or in France want to confirm some prior idea they had about Chile or about Latin America.  But books aren’t made to confirm ideas; they’re made to refute them, to question them, to put other images out there where we thought everything had already been said.