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Category Archives: Latin America

Flat by design

If there’s one thing we are taught in the United States about literature it’s that above all, it should be politically inert. Our literary figures are irrelevant to politics, and we believe this is correct. Imagine a novelist running for president, or a poet for a Senate seat, or a newspaper columnist for anything. “Hillary […]

Translating Mario Levrero

It’s amazing to me that Mario Levrero has never been translated into English, although I can think of a few reasons why. While he wrote and published during the so-called “boom” in Latin American literature (70s and 80s, along with García Márquez, Vargas Llosa, Donoso, Fuentes, etc.), this eccentric, generous, and modest Uruguayan writer doesn’t […]


An English translation of the short story “Laguna,” by Chilean author Manuel Rojas.

Happy New Year, venezolanos

Yesterday, Chávez made the remarkable move of devaluing the Venezuelan currency – the bolivar – by 50% against the dollar. One dollar used to be officially worth 2.15 bolivares. Now it’s worth 4.3. Fundamentally, this will be very painful for Venezuela’s withering middle class. Because Venezuela imports nearly everything it consumes, and importers will now […]

Worst campaign ad ever

Ask any taxi driver in Latin America who he’s going to vote for and he’ll probably say, “El menos malo.” The least bad one. The lesser of two evils. Lots of people say this in Costa Rica as well. That doesn’t mean you should put it in a campaign advertisement. Luis Fishman was a late-in-the-game […]

Mysteries from the jungle

This fascinates me. From the New Yorker: The gradual devastation of the Amazon—the felling of thousands of square miles of forest, the clear-cutting of the jungle—has produced, paradoxically, one of the greatest archeological discoveries: a vast and complex ancient civilization. In cleared-away areas of the upper Amazon basin, researchers, using satellite imagery, have recently pinpointed […]


Jorge Castañeda published a nifty little piece in Foreign Policy on why Mexico’s drug war is ill-advised and unwinnable: The Mexican drug war is costly, unwinnable, and predicated on dangerous myths. Calderón has deployed everything from distorted statistics to bad history as weapons to convince the country, and the world, that the war must be […]