Thursday, June 20, 2024

Argentina writer pens Buenos Aires vampire novel for US readers

Posted by Elena del Valle on June 20, 2024

Thirst
Thirst cover

 

Photos: Dutton, Anita Bugni

This year Dutton released Thirst (Dutton, $28), a 241-page hardcover fiction title, in English and Spanish in the United States. Written by Argentina born Marina Yuszczuk the vampire horror novel is set in early colonial Buenos Aires, Argentina. Heather Cleary translated the book. The author replied to questions by email via her publishing company publicist. The translator replied to questions via email.

When asked, with so many vampire novels already in print what inspired her to write Thirst she replied: “Well, precisely: I was inspired by thirst, which is endless. I had the desire to write about a vampire when an image materialized in my mind. I sensed I could bring a new perspective because this was a very specific image, set in Cementerio de la Recoleta in the XIXth century Buenos Aires. There are practically no vampires in the Argentinian literary tradition, and even horror is not a widely cultivated genre in my country. On another, more personal level, the urge to dive into such an erotic, sensual topic was irresistible.”

When asked about her primary target audience (in general, in the United States, and for the English edition) she replied: “First of all, I suppose, readers like myself who became fascinated with gothic literature as teenagers, who spent long hours of loneliness reading in their bedrooms with the door locked and developed a secret life, much like the heroes and heroines of gothic stories. I also believe—and this has been the case in Argentina—that Thirst is a vampire novel that can appeal to readers who are not used to reading vampire novels, or even horror. And I have to say, as I am myself a cinephile, I think this will appeal to horror movie fans, because vampire movies are in the very heart of Thirst.”

Regarding her biggest challenge in relation to the translation she said, “The biggest challenge in relation to the translation was getting editors in the US to read it, I guess! But that was my agent’s work, and she was brilliant. Then, of course, one aspect of the translation in which translator Heather Cleary and I worked very carefully was the specific scenario of XIXth century Buenos Aires with its particular mixture of colonial, French, and Italian architecture—a rather small town soon to become a modern, cosmopolitan city.”

Marina Yuszczuk

Marina Yuszczuk

When asked about her goal and how she  measures success she said: “I don’t think writers have goals other than to be able to keep on writing, and it is that necessity that makes us care about success, if we ever do. For me, success is the possibility to secure the writing of my next novel.”

Regarding next projects the author said, “I have already written two more novels after Thirst. One of them, Para que sepan que vinimos, was published in Argentina in 2022, and it’s a ghost story centered on the relationship between a grown-up daughter and her deceased mother. I just finished another novel, a gothic story set in a science museum in the last decades of the XIXth century.”

When asked “How did you decide on the cover art?” and “Who designed it?” she replied “The design team at Dutton did the cover art for the US edition, and I think it’s perfect—just the right mix of red, pink, the sensuality of the female body and the luxurious funerary art of past centuries.”

Yuszczuk, born in 1978, is founding editor of Rosa Iceberg, a press focused on publishing writing by women. She is the author of multiple books of poetry, short-story collections, and novels. She has a Ph.D. in literature from Universidad Nacional de la Plata and is a film critic for an Argentina newspaper. Thirst is her first book to be published in the United States.

Heather Cleary

Heather Cleary

“The greatest challenge, which was also one of the things I loved most about translating Thirst, was creating two distinct voices—one is sensual, gothic, and grounded in the nineteenth-century, while the other is very contemporary and more cerebral, in the sense that the character is presented through her diary entries, where she explores her inner world in detail,” said Cleary when asked what the greatest challenge the translation posed. “Marina’s Spanish provided a crystal clear model for how this should work, but rendering these tones and atmospheres with the different set of linguistic tools that English provides required careful attention.”

When asked if translating Spanish from Argentina differs from Spanish from other countries she replied, “Yes, in the sense that Spanish is different from country to country (and within countries, for that matter). But no, in the sense that the process of translation, wherever the Spanish is from, involves first understanding those differences and working with that as a baseline. For this project, it helped that I lived in Buenos Aires for nearly two years—in the same neighborhoods frequented by the characters, actually—so it was easier to distinguish between expressions that are often used colloquially and phrases that diverge from typical speech and should be treated more poetically.”

When asked if there was something she liked or that stood out in particular she replied, “I love the complexity with which Marina portrays female desire, which includes sexual desire but also so many other forms: the desire for professional success, for solitude within the responsibilities of caregiving, for connection with family and friends, and so on. This, and the textures of the relationship between the modern narrator and her dying mother (and also her relationship with her young son), make this book truly exceptional.”

Cleary’s work has been recognized by the National Book Foundation and the Mellon Foundation. She teaches at Sarah Lawrence College. She is the author of The Translator’s Visibility: Scenes from Contemporary Latin American Fiction.

Cambridge scientist explores aging

Posted by Elena del Valle on June 5, 2024

Why We Die

Why We Die

Photo: Harper Collins Publishers (William Morrow)

In Why We Die The New Science of Aging and the Quest for Immortality (William Morrow, $32.50) Venki Ramakrishnan, co-recipient of the 2009 Nobel Prize in Chemistry (for his work on the structure of the ribosome) and former president of the Royal Society, explores human mortality in a science and research oriented and thought provoking book.

In the book he asks what purpose we serve once we pass our reproductive years. Why do grandparents exist, he asks, for example. He explains that in the causes of aging known to date the processes are so interlinked and complex it’s difficult to separate causes and effects.

He wonders if living forever would be a good thing. He zeroes in on scientific research that has caught his attention from among many studies. And he presents the case that there would be social and ethical costs of attempting to live forever.

The 310-page book published in 2024 is divided into 12 chapters. Ramakrishnan leads the research team at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, England.

Bittersweet Argentinean romance released in theaters

Posted by Elena del Valle on May 8, 2024

Adiós Buenos Aires poster
Adiós Buenos Aires poster

Photo: Outsider Pictures

Adiós Buenos Aires, a 90-minute film from Betacinema and Outsider Pictures, opened in theaters May 3, 2024 in New York. On May 10th it is scheduled to open in Los Angeles at the Lammle Royal, and in Miami at the Coral Gables Art Theater. The 2022 film is in Spanish with English subtitles.

Inspired by real life events in Argentina in 2001 the film follows the stories of a struggling five member working class tango band and its members during a severe crisis in the South American country. It was directed by Buenos Aires born German Kral, who moved to Germany where he graduated from the Munich Film School.

The romantic center of the story is Julio Färber (Diego Cremonesi), the bandoneon player of the Vecinos de Pompeya, and Mariela (Marina Bellati) a briny taxi driver who crashes into his car. Although he has decided to leave his country for a better life in Germany one event after another, including frozen bank accounts nationwide and rioting in the streets, challenge his plans.

The screenplay by Stephan Puchner, Fernando Castets and Kral, was inspired by the real tragic events that shook Argentina in late 2001. According to promotional materials “The government froze all the country’s bank accounts from one day to the next, which became known in Argentina as the Corralito (little stall). Three weeks later, the December 19 and 20 pot-banging protests in the streets brought down the government at the time.”

Kral has worked as a film writer and director, dividing his time between Munich and Buenos Aires. Kral worked with Wim Wenders between 1993 and 1996 on the film Die Gebrüder Skladanowsky (A Trick of the Light). His graduate film Imágenes de la Ausencia (Images of the Absence) was nominated for the German Grimme Prize in 2001 and won First Prize at the Yamagata Film Festival in Japan in 1999, and the Young Bavarian Documentary Film Award in 2000.

Author explores society and shame in new title

Posted by Elena del Valle on April 17, 2024

The Shame Machine
The Shame Machine

Photo: Penguin Random House

In The Shame Machine Who Profits in the New Age of Humiliation (Crown, $27), Cathy O’Neil, known for her previous book Weapons of Math Destruction, and Stephen Baker discuss their beliefs about shaming in society, especially via social media, and its effects on those targeted. The authors point to obesity, gender identity, possible body odor, addiction, poverty, political views, incels and hikikomori (a form of recluses in Japanese society) and age among the favorite subjects of those who shame people.

They say in that book that although shame may at times be used for social benefit, such as during the early years of covid to shame people into wearing masks and being vaccinated with an experimental vaccine, and to correct injustice; they believe it has increasingly become weaponized as a means to belittle the more vulnerable in society. They point to corporations, in particular Google and Facebook, and social media as the ultimate financial beneficiaries. In the case of hikikomori the financial motives may be less obvious although there are businesses dedicated to removing the recluses from the midst of their families, for a fee.

Most of us, the authors say in the chapter on humiliation and defiance, even if we are unaware, are likely to participate in shaming events. In the chapter on punching up they explain that punching up works when there is a choice and a voice. In that same chapter they explain that “shame is a toxin.”

They believe everyone should look at every aspect of life from the perspective of shame. They favor reparations for past wrongs. In lieu of shaming they propose an innovative approach to addiction: offering addicts a financial reward to visit methadone clinics; and giving money to the poor with no strings attached. A source of funding for these ideas was not evident.

The 255-page hardcover book published in 2022 is divided into 10 chapters in three main sections: Industrial Shame, Networked Shame and Healthy Shame. According the biography in the book O’Neil founded an algorithmic auditing company. In one case described in the book the work of her company (she was approached as an expert in “algorithms and crime risk scores) resulted in the release of a sexual predator convicted of raping an elderly woman. O’Neil wrote or co-wrote Doing Data Science and On Being a Data Skeptic.

Podcast with Howard S. Dvorkin, CPA, chairman, Debt.com, about financial emergencies

Posted by Elena del Valle on April 1, 2024

Howard Dvorkin, CPA, chairman, Debt.com
Howard Dvorkin, CPA, chairman, Debt.com

Photo: Debt.com

A podcast interview with Howard Dvorkin, C.P.A., chairman, Debt.com, is available in the Podcast Section of Hispanic Marketing and Public Relations, HispanicMPR.com. During the podcast, he discusses financial emergencies with Elena del Valle, host of the HispanicMPR.com podcast.

According to his bio Howard focuses his professional endeavors on consumer finance, technology, media, and real estate industries creating in addition to Debt.com, Consolidated Credit, PowerWallet, Start Fresh Today and Lifestyle Magazines; and is also the Chairman of the Board of FlexShopper, Inc.

According to his bio he has played an instrumental role in drafting state and federal legislation, was a consultant to the Board of Directors for the Association of Credit Counseling Professionals (ACCPros) and is the past president of the Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies (AICCCA).

To listen to the interview, scroll down and click on the play button below. It is also possible to listen by looking for “Podcast” then select “HMPR Howard Dvorkin, CPA” and download the MP3 file to your audio player. You can also find it on the RSS feed. To download it, click on the arrow of the recording you wish to copy and save it to disk. The podcast will remain listed in the April 2024 section of the podcast archive.