March 22, 2011

"Books aren't made to confirm ideas; they're made to refute them" : Alejandro Zambra interviewed at The Millions


Alejandro Zambra

Alejandro Zambra has been named one of Granta‘s Best Young Spanish-Language Novelists. His first two novels translated in English were , the Chilean Critics Award-winning Bonsai (Melville House) and The Private Life of Trees (Open Letter). His Spanish novel Formas de volver a casa (Anagrama) comes out from in May. Megan McDowell interviews him at The Millions. Here’s an excerpt:

TM: 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.