Major Author Reading Series Begins Semester with Álvaro Enrigue

by Nicole RodriguezAsst. Production Editor

Álvaro Enrigue, a Mexican novelist, short story writer, and essayist, kicked off this semester’s Major Author Reading Series, otherwise known as MARS.

The Manhattan College English Department’s own Adam Koehler, Ph.D., and Dominika Wrozynski, Ph.D. host the Major Author Reading Series each year in order to engage and expose students to contemporary literature. A variety of different authors and poets visit campus to showcase their original work, answer questions from their audience, and sell their work through the college’s bookstore.

Students and faculty filled the seats of Hayden 100 the evening of Thursday, Feb. 21 to listen to a reading of Enrigue’s most recent work “Ahora Me Rindo y Eso Es Todo,” or “Now I Surrender and That’s All.”

The night began with a warm welcome and introduction given by Antonio Cordoba, Ph.D., an associate professor from the college’s modern language department. Cordoba informed the audience of Enrigue’s successes which include receiving the Heralde Prize and Elena Poniatowska International Novel Award, some of the most prestigious awards for Spanish literary fiction, for his novel “Sudden Death.”

Enrigue proceeded to read a translated excerpt of his latest work. “Ahora Me Rindo y Eso Es Todo” was titled after the words uttered by Apache tribe leader Geronimo at the time of his surrender. In his novel, he tells the story of a country that has been erased and does not exist today, the Apacheria.

While Enrigue primarily narrates the Apache wars, he touches upon themes such as the irrelevance of the concept of borders, seemingly tying in history to current events under a fictional setting.

When asked about his writing process and what sparks his use of history in his fiction writing, Enrigue said that he much preferred writing about subjects that are not well known to him.

“It’s my impression that what is left for a writer to write is to produce critical, political thinking of the reality that is indirect. We have one advantage which is that our novels do not get fact checked. That you do not need to offer scientific proof as the sociologists do, that you do not need mathematical proof as the journalists do. You do not need an archive to prove that what you are saying is true, but you are thinking of the same phenomena as the historians and journalists,” said Enrigue.

Freshman Agnieska Barzola attended the MARS reading and spoke highly of her experience.

“I originally just attended the MARS reading for my Spanish class and did not expect to get much out of it besides the cultural event I needed, but I ended up really enjoying it. I found the content of the novel really interesting. We were just talking about indigenous communities being forced to assimilate as a result of colonization, so being able to draw that connection was worthwhile,” said Barzola.

Upcoming installments of the Major Author Reading Series include novelist Laura Sims on March 12 at 6:30 p.m. and poet Erika Meitner on April 10 at 6:30 p.m.