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Reading Groups

Alternative Argentinas with Sam Rutter

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Tuesdays, 7:00 pm EDT - 8:30 pm EDT March 15 to June 21, 2022

Online via Zoom

The ‘With Books’ option includes each title required for this reading group at a 10% discount.

Meeting Dates:
3/15, 4/12, 5/10, 5/31, 6/21

Beyond 20th century luminaries like Jorge Luis Borges, Silvina Ocampo or Julio Cortázar, Argentina is home to a dynamic literary tradition that continues to renew itself. What does Argentine literature look like today? How have the spectres of military dictatorships and economic crises continued to make themselves felt? And what about the remarkable ability of writers from the region to conjure singular and extraordinary literary landscapes?

In “Alternative Argentinas” we will read five recently translated books from contemporary female authors that offer radically different visions of Argentina and its place in the world. A short novel or story collection will be the focus of each meeting:

  • Session I: Things We Lost in the Fire by Mariana Enríquez
    (trans. Megan McDowell). New York: Random House, 2017. 208pp
    Mariana Enríquez’s thrilling collection of stories presents a world of skulls and demons and desire all haunted by the ghosts of Argentina’s most recent military dictatorship, where elements of the Gothic burst through into the everyday.
  • Session II: Optic Nerve by María Gainza
    (trans. Thomas Bunstead) New York: Catapult, 2019. 208pp
    In Optic Nerve, María Gainza combines elements of art history and autofiction to explore a young woman’s life through the works of art that have shaped it in Buenos Aires and beyond.
  • Session III: Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin
    (trans. Megan McDowell). New York: Oneworld, 2017. 192pp
    In this eerie novella, a woman named Amanda lies dying in a rural hospital clinic while a boy named David, or some kind of voice named David, keeps her company and pushes her to face up to the trauma of her past. Strange and at times terrifying, Schweblin has also created an alarming allegory for the perils of agrobusiness.
  • Session IV: The Wind That Lays Waste by Selva Almada
    (trans. Chris Andrews) Minneapolis: Graywolf Press, 2019. 136pp
    Tinges of the Southern Gothic pervade Selva Almada’s The Wind That Lays Waste, in which an evangelical pastor deep in the Argentine countryside is stranded with his daughter when his car breaks down.
  • Session V: Mona by Pola Oloixarac
    (trans. Adam Morris) New York: FSG, 2021. 192pp
    Pola Oloixarac’s raucous Mona follows the novel’s title character, a Peruvian author based in California, as she attends a prestigious literary event in the Arctic Circle. Surrounded by writers from all across the globe, Mona skewers current notions of the literary élite with her sardonic wit, while coming to a reckoning of her own history of art, sex, and violence.

Led by

  • Samuel Rutter

    Samuel Rutter

    Samuel Rutter

    Samuel Rutter is a writer and translator from Melbourne, Australia with an extensive research background in contemporary literature from Latin America. He has translated novels, stories, screenplays and comics from French, Spanish and Catalan, and was awarded a PEN Translates Prize in 2016. His work has appeared in Harper’s, the White Review, Gulf Coast, and T magazine.