The NYC Bilingual Book Club (“Entre Dos Mundos”) was co-organized in November 2017 by its two leaders, Circle member and former Program Director Ana Salotti and Circle member Deborah Hahn. Since Ana’s move to California, the Club now has two branches: one in San Francisco, led by Ana, and the one in New York, led by Deborah.
The club is open to native Spanish speakers and people with advanced skills in Spanish interested in Spanish-language literature written in the last seven or eight years that has been translated into English. Its membership includes professional translators and interpreters, doctors, teachers, psychoanalysts, economists and specialists in education, among others. The group meets once a month at the David Rubenstein Atrium at Lincoln Center.
The group’s leader Deborah Hahn graciously invited me to the March meeting which was attended by about fifteen very enthusiastic readers. The book discussed was Liliana Colanzi’s Our Dead World. A Bolivian native, the author is considered one of the most promising young writers of Latin America. In 2015 she won the Aura Estrada Prize which is given to female writers under the age of 35 living in the US or Mexico and writing creative prose in Spanish. In 2017 Our Dead World also was a finalist for the Gabriel García Márquez prize. Ms. Colanzi is currently a professor of Latin American literature at Cornell.
The book is a collection of short stories that explore the intersection of the real and the unreal; there are moments when the past and the present meet, when the natural and the supernatural collide and when old traditions and colonial history clash with the modern world. The book is rich in references to indigenous culture and religion. The lively discussion focused on the exploration of these themes and the reactions of the group to the stories, some of which are somewhat sinister in nature.
On April 27, the group was scheduled to discuss Javier Marias’ Berta Isla. He is one of Spain’s most celebrated novelists, his works having been translated into over forty languages. On June 1, the group was planning to discuss the García Márquez novel Cien años de soledad. It was noted during the meeting that Netflix is creating a film version of this famous novel; the executive producers will be the author’s sons Rodrigo and Gonzalo. Given the importance of the book within the Latin American canon, it was expected that there would be a strong turnout for the June meeting.
Any of our members who wish to attend upcoming meetings should send an email to Deborah Hahn at firstname.lastname@example.org. More information is also available through the Bilingual Book Club web site and on their Twitter account @clubdelectyurany.
The Gotham would like to thank Deborah and her group for sharing their enthusiasm for Spanish-language literature in translation with the Circle membership.