This animus bubbles up frequently, with devastating results.
Never before have things seemed so hard for Hispanics. The signals are stark and dire: A drowned father, cradling a dead daughter. A lone mother, defending herself against an armed Border Patrol agent, with a terrified toddler at her side. A diatribe hectoring whites to purge the country of a rising brown tide. A Walmart in El Paso, strewn with the dead. Caravans of the hopeful willing to suffer indignities, splinter their families, cower in cages, risk life itself for a distant dream. And looming over it all: a president who shrugs when a voice in the crowd shouts , “ Shoot them! ” and who tells Hispanics with roots in this country to go back to the cesspools where they belong. The ground seems to have shifted in this land of the huddled masses.
Read the full article at The Washington Post
In a mean era for the tango — in the days of papal condemnation, of Queen Mary’s censure — De Robertis sets her potboiler of a novel, “The Gods of Tango.” And it is into the overcrowded conventillos of turn-of-the-century Buenos Aires, those squalid slums filled with luckless immigrants and the stench of plonk, sweat and foul meat, that she thrusts her virginal heroine, a 17-year-old Italian bride named Leda. Read the review.
By Marie Arana November 17, 2014
The irony of Latin American letters is that the torch has not passed to the living. It has gone from dead giants of the boom — Paz, García Márquez, Cortázar, Borges — to a fresher voice, a voice that speaks to millennials — except that that voice, too, belongs to a dead man. Roberto Bolaño, who died at 50 in 2003 and whose fame skyrocketed soon after, has become Latin America’s trendiest literary lion in a whirl of posthumous publication. From one international triumph to another — “By Night in Chile” to “The Savage Detectives” to “Nazi Literature in the Americas” and “2666” — his frantic, fearless and perceptive narratives have captured something about the Latin American zeitgeist that the living have not. Bolaño is, for all his mortal remove, the region’s most vibrant expositor: an acid-tongued, truth-telling, peripatetic genius, who lived all too briefly, wrote in a fever and did not go gentle into that good night. Read more here.
One of Nigeria’s newest businessman, a slave trafficker for the modern age said: “I will marry out a female at 12; I will do same for a nine year old girl like it was done on my own mother. . . . I am the one that captured your girls and I will sell them in the market. I have my own market of selling people; it is the owner that instructed me to sell. Yes, I will sell the girls, people, I am selling the girls like Allah said, until we soak the ground of Nigeria with infidels’ blood.”
Such is the message to us from Abubakar Shekau, the fiery leader of Boko Haram, a militant Islamist organization whose very name means “Western education is forbidden.” Today, one month after the abduction of more than 200 girls from a Christian boarding school — and a few days after the dissemination of a video showing those girls as cowed, bewildered hostages “converted” to Islam — a worldwide campaign has been mobilized to save them from being sold off as sexual chattel in neighboring Chad, Cameroon and Niger.
How is their rescue being mobilized? Read more here.
Nadine Gordimer’s essay appeared in The Washington Post as part of Marie’s Book World series, “The Writing Life.” Scroll to the bottom to read Marie’s profile of the writer. The essay and profile can be found in the book, “The Writing Life.”
BOOK WORLD—THE WRITING LIFE—By Nadine Gordimer
In a series of guest Op-Ed columns for the New York Times, Marie explores a number of timely issues in Latin America, from poverty to Bolivarianism to new reverse-flow economies.
THE KIDS LEFT BEHIND THE BOOM:
March 20, 2013, Lima, Peru
Henrry Ochochoque is a jovial 12-year-old with a report card full of A’s and hopes pointed straight to the moon. Last year, he moved from the squalid gold-mining town of La Rinconada, Peru — at nearly 17,000 feet above sea level, the highest human habitation in the world — to the bustling hive of Juliaca, roughly the size of Buffalo, where schools are better, a water spigot sits across the road and his widowed mother awaits a brighter future. Read more.
LATIN AMERICA’S GO-TO HERO
April 17, 2013
Can you name an American founder whose name is shouted in the streets, whose legacy inspires fanatical worship, whose image is used to bolster ideals not his own, whose mantle is claimed by both left and right? There is no Washington party, no Jeffersonian republic. No one runs for president in Madison’s name. But in Latin America, as the Venezuelan election on Sunday reminded us, the question is easy, and the answer is Simón Bolívar. Read more.
THE MIGRANT CASH LIFELINE
May 15, 2013, Washington, D.C.
Every month, Tanita Alfaro, a diminutive night-shift office cleaner in Rockville, Md., puts aside $150 to send to her parents in an impoverished village near the Salvadoran city of San Miguel. Her husband walked 1,700 miles from their war-torn land to the United States-Mexico border 25 years ago and, several years later, she followed. Read more.
PREPARING FOR THE POPE
June 20, 2013
In April, in the sunlit city of Natal, Brazil, two men knocked on Sandra Abdalla’s door to apply for a painting job. Their pitch, as she described it in an e-mail: they were evangelical Christians and therefore more reliable than the competition. They didn’t drink, raise hell or steal, as a Catholic might. In a country that boasts the largest Roman Catholic population in the world — and a quickly rising tide of evangelicals — those are fighting words. Not least to Pope Francis, an Argentine who will visit Brazil next month, in the first trip of his papacy. Read more.
By Marie Arana
Henrry Ochochoque is a jovial 12-year-old with a report card full of A’s and hopes pointed straight to the moon. Last year, he moved from the squalid gold-mining town of La Rinconada, Peru — at nearly 17,000 feet above sea level, the highest human habitation in the world — to the bustling hive of Juliaca, roughly the size of Buffalo, where schools are better, a water spigot sits across the road and his widowed mother awaits a brighter future.
On a reporting trip last year, I’d heard his mother say she wanted to take the family down-mountain to safer ground. This year, I found them in a new home, not far from the shimmering waters of Lake Titicaca. For a child who once inhabited the ice and rock of an Andean promontory, with no clean water, no sanitation, in a mercury- and cyanide-laced mudhole riddled with whorehouses, raw sewage and AIDS, Henrry seemed to be on his way up.
But statistics tell us he is not. . . .
Read more here.
La Rinconada, a gold mine at 18,000 feet in Peru, is the subject of this probing article, titled “Dreaming of El Dorado.” Marie traveled there to meet a young girl, Senna, and write a script for the forthcoming movie “Girl Rising.” The accompanying photographs are by Gina Nemirofsky of The Documentary Group in Los Angeles.
Read the whole text of “Dreaming of El Dorado”here.
And learn about Richard Robbins’s film “Girl Rising” here.
Marie has edited the Fall issue of the VQR (magazine published by UVA). Theme: “The Female Conscience,” featuring work by Jean Bethke Elshtain, Judith Warner, Joyce Carol Oates, Sylvia Earle, Mindy Aloff, Jonathan Yardley, Robin Marantz Henig, Reeve Lindbergh, Manal Al-Sharif, and many others. See more here.
I once heard a master of suspense say that the craft was actually quite simple: Take a perfectly normal situation, a trope readers know well, then throw in a wild “what if?” What if your mild-mannered, homebody spouse — so familiar to you — is the midnight stalker in the black balaclava? What if the buttoned-down banker, the one who always takes home the civic awards, is knee deep in sex and depravity? What if your president — he who died martyred and tended to be a wee sickly — was a thrill-seeking spy at a pivotal time in history?
It’s a lesson Francine Mathews seems to have learned well.
Her “Jack 1939” is most assuredly a work of fiction, but it takes skeins of history we all know well — Churchill’s England, Hitler’s Germany, Roosevelt’s White House, the rise of the Kennedy family fortunes — and ravels a hair-raising tale.
In it, John F. Kennedy is young Jack, a junior at Harvard languishing in the Mayo Clinic and eager to board the Queen Mary for a much-needed rest in England. His father, Joe Kennedy, is the ambassador to the Court of St. James; his father’s rival, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, is angling for a third term; Hitler is busily cooking up a pact with Stalin; Himmler is madly devising the Final Solution; and war is in the air. But Jack is less driven by battle drums than a broken heart. The girl of his dreams has just thrown him over, and he is off to to Europe to stanch the wounds. Maybe even write his Harvard thesis. So far, all this is true. We’re in the comfortable zone of history.
Read the full review