Posts on News

“Tales from the town of Widows” is put to the Page 69 Test.

69, or soixante-neuf (French for the number),  is not just a sexual position.
Open ANY book to page 69 and read, and see what happens.
Go to Page 69 Test website and learn what happens when you open “Tales from the Town of Widows” to page 69.

» Posted by Santiago, on Wed, April 04, 2007
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Ron Hogan, the creator of, a literary blog that’s very popular among writers and readers, asked me to talk about the process of writing a novel in English as a second language.
Read the article here.

» Posted by Santiago, on Thu, March 15, 2007
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Grammar Lessons

My dear friend Michele Morano has an amazing book just out, Grammar Lessons: Translating a Life in Spain. The book is a compilation of thirteen personal (and beautifully crafted) essays, one of which was included in Best American Essays 2006. Her book, Ruth Behar says, “is prose poetry, a traveler’s tale, reflexive ethnography, a meditation on the possibilities of translation, and a gorgeous memoir of a woman’s search for a new language that can help her to know better who she wants to be.” Sounds good, doesn’t it? Incidentally, Michele was chosen, by Time Out Chicago, as one of the twenty people to watch in 2007! To learn more about Michele and her Grammar Lessons, visit her website here——>.                                                                             

» Posted by Santiago, on Tue, February 27, 2007
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The Disappeared (Los Desaparecidos)

The Disappeared, a remarkable traveling exhibition organized by the North Dakota Museum of Art and curated by Laurel Reuter, opened last night at El Museo del Barrio. It brings together visual artists’ responses to the tens of thousands of persons who were kidnapped, tortured, killed and “vanished” in Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Uruguay by repressive right-wing military dictatorships during the late-1950s to the 1980s, and, more recently, in Colombia’s fifty-year civil war. The Disappeared gathers 14 contemporary living artists from seven countries in Central and South America, all of whose work contends with the horrors and violence stemming from the totalitarian regimes in each of their countries. Some of the artists worked in the resistance; some had parents or siblings who were disappeared; others were forced into exile. The youngest were born into the aftermath of those dictatorships. And still others have lived in countries maimed by endless civil war. These artists are fighting “amnesia” in their own countries, but they’re also asking North Americans to question what role the US played in supporting the Latin American governments which killed, and still do, their own people. Any resemblance to what’s going on in Irak and Afghanistan is a pure coincidence.
For more information, visit El Museo’s website.

» Posted by Santiago, on Fri, February 23, 2007
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If you love to read.

Harper Collins has a program called First Look, that allows you to sign up online for a chance to read new Harper Collins books (literary fiction, general fiction, suspense, biography, cookbooks, and other genres) and write your own reviews before the books hit the stores. Reviewers are selected at random, but you must register to be eligible.
Sign up for First Look.
Read my First Look reviews. (You need to scroll down).

» Posted by Santiago, on Tue, February 13, 2007
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Is America ready for a Female President?

In case you haven’t read it yet, Elayne Boosler, writing on her blog on Huffington Post, answered this question properly and categorically.
Read the terrific article here.

» Posted by Santiago, on Mon, February 12, 2007
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Last stop on my book tour: Iowa City

The evening I arrived in Iowa City, Prairie Lights Books (the iconic Iowa City bookstore where I was to read the next evening), had received a threat about a book on abortion that was to be the subject of that evening’s “Live from Prairie Lights.” Consequently, the reading was cancelled and the store closed earlier. It’s disgraceful that the same people who claim to “protect” life keep threatening it. My own reading, however, went well. No one threatened anyone and the room was packed (we even had people standing in the back). The Q&A section was marked by several important questions both from the auidence and from Julie Englander, who hosted the event. The event was recorded and will air at 8 p.m. on Saturday, February 10th, and at 7 p.m on Sunday, February 11th, on WSUI-AM 910, WOI-AM 640 and KRNI-AM 1010. A program will also be broadcast at 5 p.m on Sunday on KSUI-FM 91.7.
Audience Highlights: Michele Morano, a friend and soon-to-be-published writer, who drove four hours from Chicago to see me and to meet with her publishers. Her book, Grammar Lessons, will be released in a couple of weeks and has already gotten a lot of attention from the media. For information about it, please go to

» Posted by Santiago, on Fri, February 02, 2007
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The book tour Part 3

New York City: KGB Bar (with Lynne Tillman)
On Sunday night, I had the pleasure of reading together with Lynne Tillman at KGB Bar. We had a large and enthusiastic crowd. I read one of the last chapters, which requires a lot of setting. I might have given away too much of the plot, but I can’t help it. Once I start talking about the book, I can go for hours. I was also interviewed for the KGB magazine. I don’t know when they’re going to upload the interview, but if you want to check it out, go to Thanks to all of you who came to hear me read despite the weather. I hope you had as much fun as I did. Thanks also to Suzanne Dotino, curator of the Sunday night reading series at KGB, for inviting me to read. After the reading, many of us went to Inoteca (, an amazing Italian restaurant downtown. Good food, good wine, good friends, good times.
Audience Highlights: Miguel Falquéz-Certain (a Colombian poet and friend), Alejandro Aragón, (a Colombian writer who came all the way from Vancouver to celebrate my book), my favorite couple: Melissa & Lucas and their rowdy and awesome friends, gorgeous Akiko, Janet, and Sarah Heller, and many, many more.

Brooklyn: Barnes & Noble/Park Slope
Another successful reading, thanks to Maria Celis-Hampton of Barnes & Noble. She started the event by telling us how much the staff at B & N loved Tales from the Town of Widows.She said they’re recommending it to all Brooklyn book-lovers. The reading wasn’t as crowded as KGB’s, but I can’t complain, the turnout was great for a Monday night, plus the audience was pleasant and very receptive: quality before quantity. I’ve been reading a different chapter at every event. It’s fascinating to watch people’s reactions to specific scenes or sentences. Humor has always been a safe choice for me, but I’m discovering that moving sections are just as effective. Thanks to Rick Murphy and fiancé-to-be (hopefully) Lindsay, who after the reading took us to a great spot in Park Slope (I can’t remember the name though I only had ONE beer), and showed us why Brooklyn “is the place to be.”
Audience Highlights:
David, a really cool Colombian guy who works at B & N/Park Slope, with whom I had a nice chat before the reading; Susan and Don (Lucas’s wonderful and “unconventional” parents. Will you adopt me?); wonderful Lisa Shea; Lauretta Charlton from Harper Collins; Michael and fiancé who came all the way from Long Island; and a homeless guy who didn’t have a clue about what was going on… Oh, well, at least he stayed warm and, most importantly, among books.

» Posted by Santiago, on Wed, January 31, 2007
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The book tour continues…

Last Tuesday night I read at the Harvard Bookstore in Cambridge. It was the same night president Bush delivered his State of the Union Address, so I wasn’t expecting many people. I’m happy to report that a good number of very smart people chose me over the president, which doesn’t surprise me: my tales, fantastic though they are, are much more credible than his. Also, I’m a much better story-teller. Thanks to Amanda Darling and the staff at Harvard Bookstore for doing such a great job organizing and promoting the event. Thanks also to Scott Van Der Meid, Director of Study Abroad at Brandeis University and friend of mine, who invited his colleagues to the reading and later on took me to an amazing Vietnamese restaurant in the neighborhood.
Audience Highlights: 1. Lovely Laura, my friend Rick Murphy’s mother, who had pre-ordered the book and sat on the first row. 2. A beautiful Colombian girl from Pereira, whose name I can’t spell (her mother made it up). She told me, in less than three minutes, a moving family story worth writing a novel. 3. A tall woman who smiled at me all throughout the reading, only each time from a different corner. She just kept moving across the room, like trying to find a better angle. When the moment came to buy the book, she disappeared. She had found the angle she was looking for: the exit door.

New England College
The largest audience I’ve seen so far came to hear me read at the Simon Center Great Room of New England College yesterday. I have no doubts that Douglas Haynes (poet, professor and friend) had a lot to do with that: he invited me to do the reading and was in charge of promoting it. Thanks, Douglas. This appearance was sort of an experiment for me, for it wasn’t just a reading but also a discussion focused on writing in a second language, and incorporating source material in your own work in creative ways. I’m hardly an authority on any of this (this is my first novel after all) but I was happy to share my own experiences with both students and faculty, and I trust they enjoyed the discussion as much as I did. After the reading, I’ve had the opportunity to chat with some of the faculty members who wanted to know more about the current social and political situation in Colombia, and how it receives little or no coverage in the mainstream media.
Audience Highlights: A Colombian guy (a graphic design student), also from Pereira, who showed up to the reading wearing the t-shirt of a popular Colombian soccer team… sweet!

» Posted by Santiago, on Thu, January 25, 2007
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Book Tour…

My book tour began last week with a visit to Olsson’s Books and Records in Washington D.C. Though the audience was rather small (I blame the freezing weather for that), the reading went well. Thanks very much to Tony Ritchie and the staff at Olsson’s for their help. I hope they manage to sell all the copies I signed in advance. Hopefully the Washington Post review of Tales from the Town of Widows, which will run on the Sunday, February 4th edition, will give the book a boost.
Audience Highlights: An old man holding a copy of my book, searching for the passages I was reading, making sure I didn’t skip a single word. After the reading he left without buying the book. I guess I skipped a few lines and pissed him off.

My second stop was at Oblong Books & Music in Rhinebeck, NY, on Saturday. Now that was a great audience, both in numbers and level of interest. After the reading, they posed many interesting questions and even asked me to read some more. The reading was filmed and it will soon be on Thanks to Carrie Majer, Dick Hermans and the rest of the staff at Oblong for organizing the reading. Also, thanks to my friend Hillary Jordan who suggested I read at Oblong, and who together with Kathryn Windley publicized the event among their many friends.
Audience Highlights: Everyone. What a wonderful audience!

» Posted by Santiago, on Mon, January 22, 2007
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I was in the Netherlands last week for…

...the release of my novel in Dutch. I had been once to Holland before, a number of years ago. This time, however, as a soon-to be-published author (one who doesn’t have to pay for his plane tickets, hotel or meals, Holland looked different: more charming. I didn’t see much of it, though. I spent my first day and a half in my hotel in Amsterdam, where all seven interviews my Dutch publicist (Esther Brandt) had arranged for me were conducted. Esther, by the way, is a lovely girl. She looks 22 though she assured me she’s much older. Just as lovely is my Dutch editor, Judith Uyterlinde. Both Esther and Judith are wonderful hostesses true to their Dutch strightforwardness reputation. They managed, in a matter of hours, to ask me a question that my mother only asked when I turned 33 and was still single. 
My “performance” (reading plus interview) at the Crossing Border Festival went well. It was pouring that night in The Hague, and so we got but a small crowd. My interviewer was Arjan Visser, a very nice Dutch writer who shamelessly asked me very personal questions in front of the audience. Arjan: if you read this—and I hope you do—you owe me one. After the event, I signed a few autographs at the festival’s improvised bookstore. The four-day festival was a complete hit. Among the authors were William Boyd, Vikram Chandra, Rick Moody, M.J. Hyland and Benjamin Kunkel. By the way, I shared a cab back to the airport with M.J. Hyland. What a sweet and genuine woman she is. I liked her immediately, and hope we can share more than a cab ride some time soon.

» Posted by Santiago, on Tue, November 21, 2006
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“The Lost”

So I just finished reading Daniel Mendelsohn’s “The Lost: A search for Six in Six Million,” a unique book that’s not a novel, or a memoir, or a book of history, or a family saga, or Holocaust studies, but rather all of them, ingeniously crafted into a five-hundred-page excellent read. This is not just one more book about the Holocaust. For one thing, it’s very personal. Some details in it are so intimate and moving that you almost feel embarrassed to be in the same room, witnessing what Mendelsohn is seeing and narrating. But the book also has an international appeal. In order to get his story, all of it, Mendelsohn had to travel to Ukraine, Czech Republic, Austria, Israel, Sweden, Denmark and Australia, taking pictures here and there, gathering valuable (and sometimes ambiguous) information, interviewing people, piecing together a story that, though painful, in the end proves to be a wonderful journey to redemption. I highly recommend it.

“The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million” by Daniel Mendelsohn
New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2006. 1st ed.
Format: Hard Cover

» Posted by Santiago, on Tue, October 31, 2006
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What am I doing Here?

This is my first blog post. I don’t know much about these things, but I’ll give it a try. Stay tuned for more. You’ll find information about my book, Tales from the Town of Widows, forthcoming from Harper Collins on January 2, 2007.

» Posted by Santiago, on Fri, October 20, 2006
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