Conversations from the Cullman Center: Chilean Poet: Alejandro Zambra with Isaac Fitzgerald
The award-winning Chilean writer discusses his novel about poetry and relationships.
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After a chance encounter at a Santiago nightclub, aspiring poet Gonzalo reunites with his first love, Carla, but now, she has a son. Soon the three form a happy sort-of family—a stepfamily, though no such word exists in their language. Eventually, they separate, with Gonzalo going all the way to New York. Years later, Carla’s son meets Pru, an American journalist, and he encourages her to write about Chilean poets—not the famous, dead kind, but rather the living, striving, everyday ones. In Chilean Poet, Alejandro Zambra chronicles the small moments that make up our personal histories, exploring how we choose our families and how we betray them, and what it means to be a man in relationships.
Alejandro Zambra researched and wrote Chilean Poet during his 2015–2016 Fellowship at the Library’s Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers. He speaks about the book with author Isaac Fitzerald.
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ABOUT THE SPEAKERS
Alejandro Zambra is the author of Multiple Choice; My Documents, a finalist for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award; and three other works of fiction: Chilean Poet, Ways of Going Home, and The Private Lives of Trees. The recipient of numerous literary prizes and a New York Public Library Cullman Center fellowship, his stories have appeared in the New Yorker, the New York Times Magazine, the Paris Review, Granta and Harper’s Magazine, among other venues. He lives in Mexico City.
Isaac Fitzgerald appears frequently on The Today Show and is the author of the bestselling children’s book How to Be a Pirate as well as the co-author of Pen & Ink: Tattoos and the Stories Behind Them and Knives & Ink: Chefs and the Stories Behind Their Tattoos (winner of an IACP Award). His writing has appeared in the New York Times, the Guardian, The Best American Nonrequired Reading, the Boston Globe and numerous other publications. His debut memoir, Dirtbag, Massachusetts, is forthcoming in July, 2022. He lives in Brooklyn.
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The Cullman Center is made possible by a generous endowment from Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman in honor of Brooke Russell Astor, with major support provided by Mrs. John L. Weinberg, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The Estate of Charles J. Liebman, The von der Heyden Family Foundation, John and Constance Birkelund, and The Samuel I. Newhouse Foundation, and with additional gifts from Helen and Roger Alcaly, The Rona Jaffe Foundation, The Arts and Letters Foundation Inc., William W. Karatz, Merilee and Roy Bostock, and Cullman Center Fellows.