Existential Mysteries: Cristina Rivera Garza and Jonathan Lethem

Saturday April 27, 2019
07:00 pm

Tags: Event

Few writers can upend readers’ expectations quite like Cristina Rivera Garza. Born in Mexico and now Distinguished Professor in Hispanic Studies and Director of Creative Writing at the University of Houston, she is a prolific author of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry – the only writer to be twice awarded the Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz Prize for women writing in Spanish. Her latest novel recounts a female ex-detective’s search for a couple who has fled to the ends of the earth. Hired by the former husband of one of the missing pair who received a cryptic message from his ex-wife, the investigator, accompanied by a translator, embarks on a snow-bound journey that recalls the enchanted landscapes of fairy tales and delivers something infinitely strange and rich.


A fairytale run amok, The Taiga Syndrome follows an unnamed Ex-Detective as she searches for a couple who has fled to the far reaches of the earth. A betrayed husband is convinced by a brief telegram that his second ex-wife wants him to track her down—that she wants to be found. He hires the Ex-Detective, who sets out with a translator into a snowy, hostile forest where strange things happen and translation betrays both sense and one’s senses. Tales of Hansel and Gretel and Little Red Riding Hood haunt the Ex-Detective’s quest into a territory overrun with the primitive excesses of Capitalism—accumulation, and expulsion, corruption and cruelty—though the lessons of her journey are more experiential than moral: that just as love can fly away, sometimes unloving flies away as well.


Rivera Garza gave a short reading then discussed the process of writing her novel with Jonathan Lethem. A Q&A and signing followed

Cristina Rivera GarzaCristina Rivera Garza is the award-winning author of six novels, three collections of stories, five collections of poetry, and three non-fiction books. Originally written in Spanish, these works have been translated into English, French, Italian, Portuguese, Korean, and more. Born in Mexico in 1964, she has lived in the United States since 1989. She is Distinguished Professor in Hispanic Studies and Director of Creative Writing at the University of Houston.




Jonathan LethemJonathan Lethem is the New York Times bestselling author of ten novels, including The Fortress of Solitude and Motherless Brooklyn, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award.

He currently teaches creative writing at Pomona College in California. His latest book Feral Detective was published in November 2018.