A Critic's Journey

Front Cover
University of Michigan Press, 2010 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 200 pages

Ilan Stavans has been described by the "Washington Post" as "Latin America's liveliest and boldest critic and most innovative cultural enthusiast." The "New York Times "has called him "one of the most influential figures in Latino literature in the United States." This collection of essays, part of the University of Michigan Press's acclaimed Writers on Writing series, helps to explain why.

Here Stavans focuses on his Jewish heritage and Hispanic upbringing and the relationship between the two cultures from both his own personal experience and that of others. Despite being hailed as a voice for Latino culture, he has also been criticized for writing about that culture while being Jewish and Caucasian, with the result that he is both an insider and an outsider, an observer and a participant, providing a unique point of view.

"A Critic's Journey" includes a lecture on the much-discussed topic of "Who Owns the English Language?" as well as essays on everything from the translation of "Don Quixote" to the durability of "One Hundred Years of Solitude." He reflects on Hispanic anti-Semitism and the Holocaust in Latin America, his own experiences writing the memoir "On Borrowed Words" and the screen adaptation of the novella "My Mexican Shiva, " and writers ranging from Roberto Bolano to W. G. Sebald.

Truly, as the "Philadelphia Inquirer" has said, Stavans is "an intellectual force to reckon with."

Ilan Stavans (born Ilan Stavchansky Slomianski in Mexico City) has written extensively on American, Hispanic, and Jewish culture. He was the host of the syndicated public television show "Conversations with Ilan Stavans" from 2001 to 2006, and has been the author of everything from scholarly monographs to comic strips. He has won the Latino Literature Prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship, Chile's Presidential Medal, and the Ruben Dario Distinction. Stavans is Lewis-Sebring Professor in Latin American and Latino Culture at Amherst College.

 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - berthirsch - LibraryThing

anyone interested in literature and the Latin American experience will enjoy thumbing through this extensive book of essays. Stavans is an unusual talent who writes fiction, non fiction, culture, history from his personal perspective. His Jeawish-mexican experience is also quite interesting. Read full review

Contents

Who Owns the English Language?
1
The Translators of the Quixote
12
Teaching Spanish
22
How Richard Rodríguez Became Brown
29
Death Drugs and Narcocorridos
36
Betraying Latino Students
44
From Bondage
48
A rebozo for Sandra Cisneros
54
Edmund Wilson
116
Homage to Ryszard Kapuscinski
119
Language and Colonization
122
The Unfathomable César Aira
135
Renegade Bolaño
138
Happy Birthday Señor Neruda
144
Felisberto Is an Imbecile
149
Macondo Turns Forty
155

Sepharad Is Nowhere
62
The Holocaust in Latin America
65
Forverts I
73
Hispanic AntiSemitism
77
My Mexican Shivah
85
Is José Saramago an AntiSemite?
88
Don Quixote at Four Hundred
95
Javier Marías Hubris
101
The Jews of Sosúa
107
John Gregory Dunne
110
Susan Sontag
160
Black Studies vs Latino Studies
162
An Obituary
169
Xeroxing Shaya Berlin
172
Becoming a Book at Forty
174
Keeping a Notebook
183
A Critics Journey
188
Acknowledgments
199
Copyright

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About the author (2010)

Ilan Stavans (born Ilan Stavchansky on April 7, 1961, in Mexico City) is a Mexican-American, essayist. He is the author of "The Hispanic Condition", "The Riddle of Cantinflas", and "The One-Handed Pianist & Other Stories" as well as the editor of "The Oxford Book of Jewish Stories" and a dictionary of Spanglish, among other volumes. He has been a National Book Critics Circle Award nominee, the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and the Latino Literature Prize, among other honors. He teaches at Amherst College.

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