Juan Gabriel Vásquez
Colombian born, Juan Gabriel Vásquez is an accomplished writer whose work has been translated into several languages. In addition to writing novels, short stories and essays, Vásquez has translated works from E.M. Forster, Victor Hugo, and John Hersey into Spanish. He is a regular contributor to various magazines and journals, and writes a weekly opinion column for the newspaper El Espectador. He received a law degree from la Universidad del Rosario in Colombia and his Ph.D. in Literature from the Sorbonne in Paris. After finishing graduate school, he lived in Belgium. More recently, he resided in Barcelona and is returning to Colombia in 2013.
This year's Writer in Residence, Vladimir Sorokin, is the “resident genius” of late-Soviet and contemporary Russian fiction. He visited Stanford during October and November, 2011. One of the leaders of the Moscow underground scene of the 1980s, he continues to challenge dominant ideologies. His shockingly imaginative experimental texts, which were completely banned during the Soviet period, comprise a set of profound statements on the novelistic genre. His novel The Queue, for instance, depicts one of everyone's “favorite” Soviet pastimes – waiting in line – and consists solely of snatches of conversation, roll calls, jokes, howls of rage, and amorous moans.
His recent novel, Day of the Oprichnik, is a haunting, absurd and terrifying vision of Russia in 2028. This is a place dominated by futuristic technology, a draconian “divine monarch,” and members of an elite who get high on hallucinogenic, genetically modified fish. The narrative follows the strange life and times of Andrei Danilovich Komiaga, a fearsome oprichnik (the term refers to the medieval prototype of the Soviet KGB and the Russian FSB), and culminates in an excessive and darkly humorous scene depicting a KGB orgy.
Haitian writer Lyonel Trouillot visited in February of the 2010-11 academic year. Trouillot is a poet, novelist, and essayist of the post-Duvalierist generation of Haitian writers. He is the author of Street of Lost Footsteps, Children of Heroes, and many other works.
Portuguese poet Daniel Jonas visited in April, 2010. He has published four collections of poems including Os Fantasmas Inquilinos (The Phantom Tenants) and Sonótono (Dreamtone), which was awarded the P.E.N. prize 2008. He has translated into Portuguese Shakespeare, Waugh, Huysmans, Pirandello, Milton and Auden and is now working on a translation of selected poems by William Wordsworth. In 2008, he debuted as a playwright with the play Nenhures (Nowhere) for Teatro Bruto. He has been working with the S. João National Theatre in Porto, and he has co-directed the dramaturgy of the plays The Merchant of Venice and the stage reading of Paradise Lost.
German-Japanese writer Yoko Tawada was our Writer in Residence January 27-February 23, 2009.
Yoko Tawada was born in Tokyo in 1960 and educated at Waseda University. She has lived in Germany since 1982. With her debut story "Missing Heels," she was awarded the Gunzo Prize for new writers in 1991. In 1993 she received the prestigious Akutagawa Prize for her collection The Bridegroom Was a Dog, and in 1996 she won the Adelbert von Chamisso Prize, a German award to foreign writers recognized for their contribution to German culture. In 2005, she was honored with the Goethe Medaille. Tawada is also the author of the collections Facing the Bridge and Where Europe Begins, and of more than thirty other works including fiction, poetry, and drama. Her novel The Naked Eye was recently published in English translation.
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Tawada's visit was co-sponsored by the Stanford Institute for Creativity and the Arts (SICA) and the Stanford Humanities Center.
Russian novelist Ludmila Ulitskaya joined the DLCL January 15-February 15, 2008. She is the author of fourteen fiction books, including The Funeral Party, Medea and her Children, Sonechka, The Kukotsky Case, and other works. She has also written three tales for children and six plays staged by a number of theaters in Russia and in Germany. Her latest major novel, Daniel Stein, Translator, won the Bolshaya Kniga (Big Book) Prize, Russia's most prestigious literary prize.
Ulitskaya was born in 1943 in the Ural Mountains and graduated from Moscow University with a Master’s Degree in biology. She worked in the Institute of Genetics as a scientist. Shortly before perestroika (1979-1982) she became Repertory Director and scriptwriter for the Hebrew Theater of Moscow.
She has won the Medici Award (1998, France), the Penne Literary Prize (1998, Italy) and the Giuseppe Acerbi Award (1998, Italy) for Medea; the Booker Prize (2002, Russia) for The Kukotsky Case; the Novel of the Year Prize (2004, Russia) for the novel Sincerely Yours, Shurik; the Best Writer of the Year Ivanushka Prize (2004, Russia); and the Penne Literary Prize (2006, Italy).
In February 2008, the DLCL welcomed acclaimed Brazilian novelist and poet Ana Maria Gonçalves to Stanford. She participated in a two-week seminar on Um Defeito de Cor (A Color Defect), her historical novel on the Brazilian slave trade. The impact of this novel in Brazil has been compared to that of Alex Haley’s Roots in the United States. The novel was awarded a major literary prize, the 2007 Casa de Las Americas.
Our seminar with Gonçalves was co-sponsored by the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, the Center for Latin American Studies, the Brazilian Consulate, and SICA. Open to undergraduate and graduate students, the class followed an innovative structure featuring a lively course blog and presentations by distinguished faculty from Stanford and Berkeley, as well as by the author.
Distinguished Israeli novelist Amos Oz joined the DLCL as Writer in Residence in January 2007. His visit was co-sponsored by the Taube Center for Jewish Studies. Oz presented the annual Jewish Community Endowment Fund Lecture on January 22, 2007. He also led a colloquium on his essay "How to Cure a Fanatic" and met with students and faculty during his stay.
Ruth Ozeki's work has been characterized as "ardent and passionate…rare and provocative" by U.S.A. Today. Her first novel, My Year of Meats, published in 1998 by Viking Penguin, has garnered widespread glowing reviews, awards, and a still-growing readership. A sexy, poignant, funny tale about global meat and media production, My Year of Meats tells the story of Jane and Akiko, two women on opposite sides of the planet, whose lives are connected by a TV cooking show. Ozeki's second novel, All Over Creation (Viking Penguin 2003), shifts the focus from meat to potatoes in a story of a family farmer, a prodigal daughter, a gang of environmental activists, and a corporate spin doctor, whose lives collide in Liberty Falls, Idaho. In a starred review, Kirkus declared All Over Creation "a feast for mind and heart."
Ozeki's film Body of Correspondence (1994) won the New Visions Award at the San Francisco Film Festival and was broadcast on PBS. Halving the Bones (1995), an award-winning autobiographical film, tells the story of Ozeki's journey as she brings her grandmother’s remains home from Japan. It has been recognized at the Sundance Film Festival, the Museum of Modern Art, the Montreal World Film Festival, and the Margaret Mead Film Festival, among others.
Ozeki's visit was co-sponsored by the Stanford Bookstore.
F. (Francisco) Sionil José, writer and publisher, was born on December 3, 1924 in Rosales, Pangasinan. In 1958, José founded the Philippine Center of PEN, an international organization of poets, playwrights, essayists, and novelists. In 1965 he established the publishing firm Solidaridad and edited the journal Solidarity. His work includes eleven novels, five books of short stories, a book of verse, a collection of stories for children, and four books of essays. His five-novel Rosales saga, consisting of The Pretenders, Tree, My Brother My Executioner, Mass, and Po-on, has been published in the United States and translated in various languages in Asia and Europe.
José's visit was co-sponsored by the Filipino-American Community at Stanford (FACS); Arkipelago, the Filipino Bookstore; and the Stanford Bookstore.
Download José's "Literature as History," a talk presented at Stanford University, May 5, 2005.
Milton Hatoum was the DLCL's first Writer in Residence in May 2004. He is the author of two novels: The Tree of the Seventh Heaven (Relato de um Certo Oriente), forthcoming in a new translation as Tale of a Certain Orient (Bloomsbury 2004); and The Brothers (Dois Irmãos). Both works received Brazil's highest literary prizes. An Amazonian of Lebanese descent, Hatoum writes about his native Manaus, the city in the middle of the jungle. He is also a professor and translator of French literature.