Posts in English

Sol del trópico, by Gabriela Mistral

Sol del trópico, by Gabriela Mistral

The poetry of Gabriela Mistral, who won the Nobel Prize in 1945, is very concrete, and generally it's yoked to the Chilean landscape. Often her protagonists are women: on solitary journeys that might be a pilgrimage or an attempt at flight; stuck in landscapes that...

Prosas apátridas, by Julio Ramón Ribeyro

Prosas apátridas, by Julio Ramón Ribeyro

Julio Ramón Ribeyro was a Peruvian author best known for his short stories; his work is enjoying a surge of attention in Peru on the 90th anniversary of his birth. Shopping in Lima I was torn between his collected stories, a formidable brick of a book, and his Prosas...

Habits of the Pigeons

Habits of the Pigeons

One nice thing about Ben's work on the Real Pigeons series (Book 4 is out now) is that he and I now notice pigeons much more than we used to. There are lots of different pigeons in America, too - the little brown torcazas, with their feathers like scales, the big...

Movie Diary 27/8/19

Movie Diary 27/8/19

Crazy Rich Asians (2018) – A blow for representation this may be, but the central relationship is on the messed-up Jane Eyre/Rebecca model, where the heroine (Constance Wu) has to make all the adjustments to win over her rich, impassive boyfriend (Henry Golding) –...

Frangipani

Frangipani

I see my grandfather's bones in frangipani tree branches: incautious in their instinct to share, they loll green tongues of leaf, litter the pavement with blossoms where they are trodden, turn banana-skin brown. I see them floating in saucers, stuck in lapels, a third...

Cameras

Cameras

They were happiest on holiday. It might sound obvious – who isn't happiest in their free time? For them, though, holidays served a more complex need than leisure. On holiday, she came into focus, and he remembered her. Andrew turned the lens, looking at the screen. He...

Los Angeles Nocturne

Los Angeles Nocturne

This is my translation of Xavier Villaurrutia's poem "Nocturno de Los Ángeles" from his collection Nostalgia de la muerte. Villaurutia was an important literary figure in Mexico in the years after the Revolution, a member of the contemporáneos along with Salvador Novo...

Postcard from San Cristobal de las Casas

Postcard from San Cristobal de las Casas

There's something about mountains, and mountain towns. Natural places to stop, they attract all sorts of runaways and misfits, and people nursing broken hearts. The proximity to nature can be a powerful healer; the sense of lejanía can provide a sense of sanctuary. I...

Postcard from Medellín

Postcard from Medellín

I fell for Medellín pretty fast, on the bus in from Manizales. It was the balance it strikes with nature: the way it sits in its ample valley, the buildings climbing the hills to meet the forests and pastures on either side; the parks and tree-lined streets; the...

Book List 2018

Book List 2018

My reading last year was shaped by my travels – in Japan and Korea in April and May, and South America in the second half of the year. I was surprised at the paucity of titles on Japan and Korea in English – reflecting, I suppose, white Australians' indifference to...