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An Anthology of Hispanic Canadian Short Stories

Julio Torres-Recinos

Publication Year: 2013

Cloudburst is a milestone in Canadian literature. For over a half-century, beginning with the Spanish Civil War and continuing through the coups d’état and military repression in South and Central America in the 1970s and 80s, Spanish-speaking writers have been arriving in Canada as exiles and immigrants and have been creating new works in their native language. Cloudburst is the first anthology of short stories by Hispanic Canadian writers from across Latin America and Spain to appear in English. Edited by Luis Molina Lora and Julio Torres-Recinos and first published in Spanish as Retrato de una nube in 2008, Cloudburst is a prodigious collective work, containing forty-two stories by twenty-two authors from nine different countries—Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Peru, and Spain—and rendered into English by seven translators.

The stories in Cloudburst reflect the enormous variety of Hispanic writing in Canada today. Each of the authors’ native countries has its own artistic and literary tradition, yet all are bound together by the Spanish linguistic and cultural sphere. Moreover, the women and men in the anthology have settled in cities and towns across Canada, some of them entering into contact with the English-speaking literary world, others with the French. A number of them began writing before they left their homelands, while many of the younger contributors started their careers in Canada. Some of them prefer a traditional literary style, others a more surrealist, experimental, or colloquial approach. All of them are passionate about their writing, and all have gone through the common experience of leaving or being uprooted from the land of their birth and settling in Canada, where they face the challenges and difficulties involved in reestablishing their lives in a largely unknown environment. In Cloudburst, through the prism of translation, they share their latest fiction with English-speaking readers.

Published by: University of Ottawa Press

Series: Literary Translation


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p. C-C

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-iv


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pp. v-viii

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pp. 1-4

We would like to thank all the authors who have entrusted us with their works for Cloudburst: An Anthology of Hispanic Canadian Short Stories. When we sent out the call for submissions in late 2007, we knew that there was a need to publish an anthology such as this, and that a significant...

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The Past and Present of Hispanic Canadian Literature: An Overview

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pp. 5-14

Cloudburst: An Anthology of Hispanic Canadian Short Stories brings together for the first time twenty-two fiction writers who work in the Spanish language in Canada, with a total of forty-two short stories (fifty in the original edition). Due to both the quantity of the stories and writers presented...

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Look into Cloudburst: The Central Themes

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pp. 15-20

Reading the stories in this anthology is a gratifying experience due to both the strength and grace of the anecdotes and tribulations they contain and to how much they confirm the health of Hispanic Canadian literature (though there are many paths still to explore). Our methodology for choosing...

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Martha Bátiz Zuk

Martha Bátiz Zuk was born and raised in Mexico City, but has been living in Toronto since 2003. She started publishing in 1993 at twenty-two years of age. Her articles, chronicles, reviews and short stories have appeared in diverse newspapers and reviews in Mexico, Spain, the Dominican...

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The First Cup of Coffee

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pp. 23-31

There’s nothing more bitter than the first cup of coffee. Early this morning, I realized that. Don’t let my saying that surprise you: it’s the honest-to-God truth. Lies have never appealed to me. I tried coffee for the first time today. I’d seen it, of course, and smelled it many times. I liked the aroma a lot, but I never...

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Sweet Valeria

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pp. 32-34

The last time I saw her, she was wearing a blue turtleneck sweater and a black suit jacket. Her brown hair hung down over her shoulders, and her full lips, painted a wine colour, stood out like wounds on her face. She didn’t have rosy cheeks, or shining eyes, just gaudy lips in the middle of that...

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Nohora Viviana Cardona

Nohora Viviana Cardona holds a B.A. in Literature from the Universidad del Valle in Cali, Colombia, as well as a Specialization in University Teaching from the Universidad Santiago de Cali. She also has an M.A. in Hispanic Literature...

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The Faker

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pp. 37-39

Graciela isn’t my mom, but I love her as if she were, which is saying a lot. She started giving me lessons about men for my own good (as she always said) after I turned twelve and men began to give me catcalls in the streets when I’d go on errands with her. I’d turn all red, but the truth was I liked it. I began...

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Alfred’s Admirer

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p. 40-40

The shadow of a manatee with enormous eyes threatens me from over on the wall; when I approach, it becomes even more monstrous. I huddle under the blanket, trying in vain to lessen the terror I feel. I toss and turn in the bed. I strain to listen to a far-off siren; for the first time I envy the victim...

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Diego Creimer

Diego Creimer, an Argentine-Canadian writer and journalist, was born in La Plata, Argentina, in 1972. He has an undergraduate degree in Cinematography and an M.F.A. in Film Production, and has made documentaries and short films in both Argentina and Canada. He graduated in Journalism...

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The Meeting

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pp. 43-58

I received the invitation by mail, one morning in March, while I was drinking yerba maté in the backyard and leafing through the Crónica. The three brats from the family in the back were trying to catch a frog in the sewer. They wanted to use it as a dart-throwing target in the other yard, the one way...

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Ramón De Elía

Ramón de Elía was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1964. In 1994 he moved to Montreal, where he still lives. He has published short stories and poetry in several collective works with other Hispanic Canadian authors and is co-founder of The Apostles Review, a literary magazine in Spanish...

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Twelve Nights

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pp. 61-70

“Boom! Boom!” exclaimed Leopoldo onomatopoeically, grasping an imaginary pistol and aiming it at the middle of my forehead. After the virtual shots, the weapon slowly disappeared from his consciousness and his hand came to rest calmly at the side of his plate. His gesture was troubling, especially...

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Gabriela Etcheverry

Gabriela Etcheverry is a Chilean-Canadian writer, literary translator and cultural advocate with a doctorate in litera- ture from the Université Laval. She is the co-founder of Qantati Junior, a publishing house that specializes in children’s stories. Her autobiographical novel Latitudes was published in Spanish...

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The Photographer

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pp. 73-76

It was around three in the afternoon when someone knocked at the door, and we all ran to see who it was. The man was confused by the sight of four pairs of eyes examining him without even a hint of modesty. Tall and thin, wearing a dark suit, he wanted to project by the way he spoke and dressed...

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pp. 77-78

Lying in the bed, my eyes closed and my legs open, I remain in absolute repose. It is inside my body, because I can feel that wave of pleasure rising up from my thighs, invading my stomach and heart and finally escaping through my head, only to slide back down in a wave of fire-coloured vapour...

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Jorge Etcheverry

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pp. 79-81

Jorge Etcheverry is a poet, narrator, visual artist and critic from Chile. He holds a Ph.D. in comparative literature from the Université de Montréal and lives in Ottawa. Etcheverry is co-editor of La Cita Trunca/Split Quotation Press. He is also ambassador to Canada for Poetas del Mundo and a member of the group Poetas Antiimperialistas de América and of the El...

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When We Crossed Over to the Parallel City

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pp. 82-84

While we were in Paris, we had no problem locating the metro stations: a second was all we needed to orient ourselves on the map, although at first I felt a little concerned, which was not bad, considering that people say I’m the most paranoid Chilean poet they know. “Well, he’s something, but it’s not...

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Metamorphosis II

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pp. 85-88

It’s always been mystifying to me that, except for movie actors and the odd figure with a tragic destiny, such as the Kennedys for example, most successful people are not only outright ugly, but even monstrously so. Somewhere I read that in the countries that were members of the British Empire...

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pp. 89-90

Unquestionably it was a free, avant-garde, poetic act, in book format, with photos and drawings, prose texts, verse, graphics, diagrams, including descriptions of events, friends’ conversations in cafés, a family party. I almost couldn’t believe it and examined the drawing again, which was not very detailed, fortunately, but well done. After all this time of what I would...

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Enrique Fernández

Enrique Fernández is director of the Department of French, Spanish and Italian at the University of Manitoba. He is also the founding editor of the online short story review Proyecto Sherezade, which has been publishing stories in Spanish by authors from around the world since 1996. He...

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The Doll

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pp. 93-99

Doña Gertrudis Guerrero had lived alone for thirty-five years. Her solitude was a personal choice, as she had a multitude of relatives scattered around the island who were anxious to welcome their wealthy relative into their homes. Gertrudis had lived alone and hadn’t left her house for thirty-five years...

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The Tortoise’s Hole

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pp. 100-104

The tortoise that had long shared the family mansion with me dove into the bottomless hole in the garden on the same day that John-John Kennedy’s light aircraft plunged into the depths of the Atlantic. Now that I’m down here with time on my hands, I think I can explain this coincidence...

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Gilberto Flores Patiño

Gilberto Flores Patiño was born in Celaya, Mexico, in 1941 and has lived in Montreal for the past twenty-fi ve years. He has published fi ve novels: El reino del silencio (The Kingdom of Silence) (Balsal, 1969), Sin salida (No Exit) (Novaro, 1972), Nudo de tinieblas (Knot of Shadows) (Franciscana, 1974), El último descendiente (Th e Last Descendent) (Gernika, 1986),...

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The Knitters of Time

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pp. 107-115

Ah, caray! but it’s cold these days! I can remember another year like this one . . . or who knows, that one may have been worse. It must be because of the cold that something comes back to me . . . We were in the bitterest part of the cold season. I was...

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The Legend of the Snow

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p. 116-116

In the afternoon it clouded over and the wind began to blow. The wind was very cold and was blowing in, full of powder. Then it spread the powder everywhere and bit by bit began to cover the streets, the roofs of the houses, the tops of the trees, the steeples of the churches, everything . . . everywhere...

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Anita Junge-Hammersley

Born in Santiago, Chile, Anita Junge-Hammersley studied French Literature and Translation at Collège de Limoilou, in Quebec City. A former political prisoner, she is a human rights advocate and writes to say what needs to be said. In 2007, her story “Desde mi celda” (From Inside My Cell) was...

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Closing the Loop

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pp. 119-123

The taxi driver’s driving like an absolute lunatic and in spite of her sadness my grandmother asks me if I have my cell phone so I can call her from the terminal—yes, I say, and I miss her already—and so I can call her brother as soon as I get there, I might forget, she says, and I promise that I’ll call...

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Cultural Carnival

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p. 124-124

Sometimes I feel like I’m back in Santiago, or in any Latin American country, when I’m waiting at the Saint-Laurent bus station, surrounded by people from all over the world chewing gum, spitting on the ground, women with strollers, all speaking different languages and wearing such varied attire, each with their own cultural customs and corresponding...

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Luis Molina Lora

Luis Molina Lora was born in Colombia. He holds a B.A. in Literature from the Universidad del Valle, in Cali, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Spanish from the University of Ottawa. He has co-authored the novel La sucursal del cielo (Th e Off shoot of Heaven) (2002) and co-edited the anthology Las imposturas...

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Gauguin’s Imaginary Women

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pp. 127-130

Attempting to transcend mental models of conquest is an exercise as fatuous as it is stupid. The character I’m concerned with possesses both these qualities, though he doesn’t know it. The elements I have to prove such a judgment are: A) The day of the conquest he dared to think that he would have to...

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The Canadian Toy

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pp. 131-140

If I had to describe the feeling with which I got off the airplane, I would define it, to start, as fright, or fear, but not cowardice; after all, I’m here, and being a coward means, among other things, not daring to act because of the impulsive human mechanism of experiencing fear. Fear is a tricky thing: they...

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Ángel Mota

Ángel Mota was born in Mexico City and has lived in Montreal since 1992. He holds a doctorate in Comparative Literature from the Université de Montréal, where he has taught courses on immigrant literature and workshops in creative writing. He co-edited the poetry review Helios...

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The Birds of Djerba

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pp. 143-148

I’m on a boat from Sicily to Tunisia. I drift away with the colours of the waves. The sea and foam draw me into the apathy of the cerulean sky. The south swallows me up, its lure draws me to Africa—as if the sugar of the sea were a respite from my haste, from my desire for knowledge. But the shrieks of...

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The Woman with Three Husbands

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pp. 149-154

I awaken in a bed that I don’t recognize. A window opposite lets in the full morning light. The window appears to be the only door. The bed is in the centre of the house and is the only white object. The house, which is the size of a room, has a ceiling and walls that are earthen-like. A sink is located next...

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Felipe Quetzalcóatl Quintanilla

Felipe Quetzalcóatl Quintanilla (aka “Quetzal”) was born in Mexico City to a Mexican mother and Salvadoran father and immigrated to Canada at the age of ten. Aft er dabbling about in a seminary, med-school and the Canadian Army, he ultimately dedicated himself to the study of fi lm and literature. He received a Ph.D. in Hispanic Studies from the University...

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Rainy Night

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pp. 157-162

Mario, in his forties, seated there behind the counter at three in the morning, is still absorbed in the darkness outside and the rain and thunder of the past day. Lately he’s been thinking a great deal about El Salvador, the war, his dead brothers. This job gives him a lot of time to sit and think...

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From the Thirteenth Floor of a Third-World Building

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pp. 163-164

Until a short while ago I was reading a novel or perhaps a collection of short stories, by Vargas Llosa maybe . . . strange tales, I believe, with touches of macabre magic realism. One story, for example, of a man who’s reading in his dreams that above his apartment there’s a subway moving by that in turn

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Camila Reimers

Camila Reimers was born in Antofagasta, Chile, and immigrated fi rst to Venezuela in 1975 and then to Canada in 1980. She lived in Vancouver, Montreal and Sudbury before settling in Ottawa with her two children in 1990. Reimers is a graduate of the Universidad de Chile and the University...

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The Metamorphosis of the Panther

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pp. 167-170

The light snow attempted to put out the glowing stones in the fire, while I asked myself yet again what the hell I was doing here. Raised among banana trees and accustomed to watching the world from a hammock, swaying between trees so dense...

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Nela Rio

Nela Rio is an Argentine-Canadian poet, writer, artist and researcher. She has also organized international exhibits of poetry and art, including Outspoken Art/Arte Claro, and multilingual and multicultural poetry readings. She is the founder and president of the Registro Creativo of the Canadian...

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Carlota, Always

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pp. 173-177

She walked toward the bathroom with the solemnity of someone who knew that she was headed toward the presence of something distinct. Her shining gaze, extraordinarily deep and exquisitely open, consecrated her in the halo of a modern goddess, inaugurating her in the shiver of anticipated pleasure as she neared the rain that, as it touched her, would...

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Leopolda, Don’t Forget Me

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pp. 178-184

She didn’t know why, but she couldn’t open the envelope. It had been on the desk for three days. She told herself again that it would be impossible not to open it. By now it wasn’t simply a matter of her having left it there unopened for so long; instead, it had started to worry her. The interference of a...

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The Paralyzed Hour

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pp. 185-186

You asked me not to look at you when you left. I loved you more than my desire and I did not turn around. In the newspaper, the photo appeared on the third page. You were barefoot. You went off in search of the impossible and you attained it. They didn’t find any papers to identify you,...

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Carmen Rodríguez

Born in Valdivia, Chile, bilingual writer Carmen Rodríguez came to Canada as a political exile in 1974. She is the author of Guerra prolongada/Protracted War (Women’s Press, 1992), a bilingual volume of poetry; De cuerpo entero (Los Andes, 1997) and its English version and a body to remember with (Arsenal Pulp Press, 1997), a collection...

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In the Company of Words

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pp. 189-191

Hey, Pilar Vallejo, remember when we used to run down Ferrari Street and the boats looked so small down there in the bay and we were so goofy, pretending to be nuts, and then we hung around on the corner with our hands in our pockets and whistled Madame Butterfly arias after my brother took...

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Breaking the Ice

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pp. 192-200

I first encountered Signora Carmella and Rosa on the bleachers of the Britannia ice rink. That season, between September 1992 and April 1993, Signora Carmella’s grandson and Rosa’s son played hockey on the same team as my son. According to the minor league’s rules, children were grouped by age, and...

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David Rozotto

David Rozotto was born in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala (1970), where he studied and worked as a primary school teacher until 1991, when he moved to Guatemala City and later immigrated to Canada. He received his B.A. in Spanish Language and Literature as well as a master’s degree...

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pp. 203-210

Yolanda came to Canada with Adelita, her only daughter, her inseparable companion and sublime reminder of a Maoist guerrilla whom she’d never heard from again. By the time she decided to emigrate, the girl was barely eleven years old, but those applications and papers take time, and when the...

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Counterfeit Hero

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pp. 211-216

How I remember you! said an old blind man to a gravestone eroded by memories. That’s what you call friendship, more than fifty years. Man, do I ever miss you, you son of a bitch, all those adventures we had, the stories to tell. He chatted away as he reclined on the unmoved marble, caressing it, sometimes...

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Pablo Salinas

Pablo Salinas was born in Lima, Peru, where he received a B.A. in Journalism and was active in poetry readings. In 2005 he participated in Estoy Afuera, a conference of young Ibero-American poets in Mexico. From 2005 to 2008, he edited...

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A Brief Account of the New World

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pp. 219-224

Every time I’ve gone back to Salt Lake City, the trip has been another escape, sometimes from hunger and need, and other times due to debts of blood, like the escape from Almería, on the Mediterranean. It was a night in May, during the Feast of San Indalecio, the same night I pursued Dolores as she ran naked through...

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A Trip to Lima

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pp. 225-232

It had been his new condition for a few months, his new way of life. He had discovered it in the hustle and bustle of the aviation academy. Neither his excellent grades in secondary school nor his unsurpassable advantage over the rest of us had been of any help: he had been barred from pilot training...

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Alejandro Saravia

Alejandro Saravia was born in Cochabamba, Bolivia, and has lived in the province of Quebec, where he works as a journalist, since 1986. He has published the novel Rojo, amarillo y verde (Red, Yellow and Green) (2003), and two books of poems, Habitante del décimo territorio (Inhabitant...

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The Bears of Port Churchill

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pp. 235-238

He had been watching the swift work of a small hamster for a while as it devoured seeds and grains from a small plastic feeder and stored them in its cheeks, which in this species of rodent serve as enormous pouches to transport food from one place to another. In a few minutes, its small body had...

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Songs from Oruro

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pp. 239-246

María Isabel danced for so long that carnival afternoon in Oruro that one of her shoes lost its heel and the other, its sole. Surprised by such an accident in the middle of the party, her friends burst into jovial laughter as they wove their way through the dance hall in half-moon turns to the beat of...

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Borka Sattler

Borka Sattler is a Peruvian writer and painter. She has published the novels La galería (The Gallery) (Zagazeta, 1990), Doña Tránsito Abril (Hispano Latinoamericano, 1997) (Contracultura, 2007), and Mitocha (Estruendomudo, 2009), as well as the collections of short stories El enigma de...

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Anita Brown

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pp. 249-258

When they found her she was at the edge of her life, in that divisive space between what we know and what no one knows what to expect. A neighbour said that no one had seen her leave her house or heard a sound from inside for the past three days. The door was closed and the authorities had to...

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Ramón M. Sepúlveda

Ramón Sepúlveda San Martín was born in Santiago, Chile. He studied at the University of Chile and has lived in Canada since 1974. He is a founding member of Ediciones Cordillera and of various creative writing workshops in Canada. He currently contributes to Canadian newspapers...

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The Tigress at the Conference

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pp. 261-265

Thursday the 22nd, 8:45 a.m. The radiant Tigress stood outside the ballroom collecting her welcome package and nametag. She greeted me with a hug and two kisses in Québécois fashion, and to show closeness, spoke to me in French. I switched to English because at the time we were in Toronto, and of course...

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The Language Teacher

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pp. 266-270

When Amparo walked into the restaurant, Roberto made no effort to get her attention but merely observed her reflection in the glass door. While she scanned the room for him, he secretly watched her. He didn’t notice any changes in her, though there were obvious changes in him: he had lost a lot...

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Óscar Armando Tobar

Born in El Salvador, Óscar Armando Tobar now lives in Montreal, Quebec. He is a writer and composer. In Canada, he has published Máximas y mínimas (Maxims and Minimums) (1995) and Diálogo de los egos (Dialogue of Egos) (1996); in the United States, he has published Con la...

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Wheelchair Love

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pp. 273-276

It’s just the way I am, I like normal people, the kind who live the common life of mortals, people who, in moments of inspiration, fight to change the world and bring people together in the twists and turns that life brings. Sometimes things aren’t as we would like them to be. I read...

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Black Serpent

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pp. 277-282

The Cherokee van drove cautiously without stopping. It crossed countryside and towns, like a worm moving over the motionless back of an enormous black serpent. That small republic was a world of contrasts and traditions, anchored like a box of surprises in the continental belt of...

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Julio Torres-Recinos

Julio Torres-Recinos was born in Chalatenango, El Salvador, in 1962 and has lived in Canada since 1988. He is a poet, fi ction writer and literary researcher. He has published six collections of poetry: Crisol del tiempo (Crucible of Time) (2000); Nosotros (We) (2000); Una tierra extraña (A Strange...

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With Aurora After

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pp. 285-290

I have to find a way to tell Aurora that her father has died. It won’t be easy. Maybe it would be better if I didn’t go to the café to see her, if I didn’t show up for our meeting. We see each other there twice a week after she gets off work. At least I’m not working and can travel to the city to go see her...

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pp. 291-296

When Tristán arrived at Doña Lola de Pons’s house, he had just turned sixteen years old. It was during the month of August and some relatives had sent him down from Los Angeles after his mother died. She had been attacked by thieves, who stole her purse from a motorbike; she’d slipped and hit...

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Postface: Translating Spanish Polyphony

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pp. 297-304

Anthologies are always challenging to translate, and Cloudburst probably more so than most. Since, by definition, an anthology is composed of short works or extracts by a variety of authors, the translator will have to come to grips with styles, language use, registers, tones and references that...


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pp. 305-308

E-ISBN-13: 9780776621203
Print-ISBN-13: 9780776608099

Page Count: 317
Publication Year: 2013

Series Title: Literary Translation