A Thousand Forests in One Acorn: An Anthology of Spanish-Language Fiction

Edited by Valerie Miles. Open Letter, $19.95 trade paper (717p) ISBN 978-1-934824-91-7
Miles compiles an impressive anthology of Spanish-language authors' self-submissions. The result, titled after an Emerson quote, is less of a definitive canon than an attempt to "root out the acorn, […] the driving obsession of a writer." Nevertheless, the 28 participating fiction writers represent some of the best of their respective literatures: including Carlos Fuentes (Mexican), Aurora Venturini (Argentinian), Mario Vargas Llosa (Peruvian), and Ramiro Pinilla (Spanish), among many others. Each section consists of a short biography (conveniently marked off by inked page edges), an interview, a selection of the author's choosing, and finally a bibliography of works and awards. Almost all of the selections are literary works of rare, remarkable quality, but the real pleasure is reading them in the context of the interviews. Here, authors explain their submission choice (Alberto Ruy Sánchez calls it "the pain of choosing"); they recount influences (Faulkner makes frequent appearances, as do family members—says Fuentes, "[W]rite […] for your grandmothers wherever they are"); and they discuss everything from writing techniques to fiction's "obligation" to politics. Ordered chronologically by authors' dates of birth, the collection begins with the rich works of the most mature authors, and ends slightly less impressively with younger authors who, though worthwhile, may have yet to write their best pages. With its myriad themes, including class conflict (Esther Tusquets), disillusionment with utopian ideals (Juan Marsé), and instability of identity (Antonio Muñoz Molina), the collection amply rewards both the casual reader and the scholar seeking insight into authors' thought processes. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 08/25/2014
Release date: 09/01/2014
Open Ebook - 600 pages - 978-1-940953-08-3
Open Ebook - 978-1-322-97787-4
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