I was interviewed recently by book critic and educator Heather Scott Partington for Electric Literature. Here are a few extracts:
“Magical things happen, but [Damnificados] isn’t Harry Potter. You can’t wave a wand and make poverty disappear.”
“I discovered how creative and resourceful the poor can be … In the real tower, the elevator was broken, so they built ramps around the exterior of the building and motorcyclists gave people rides. They turned the helicopter pad into an outdoor gym using recycled building materials as weights. … Somehow, against all the odds, they built a community. It reminds me of something Nelson Mandela said: “It always seems impossible until it’s done.””
“I didn’t have concerns about including foreign languages [in Damnificados], and neither did my editor. We trust the reader. Smart readers guess from context, live with ambiguity, take pleasure in sounding out foreign words. They’re the people I’m writing for.”
“I’ve always liked what Neruda said about the time he discovered books: “Comí todo, como un avestruz” – “I gobbled up everything like an ostrich.” I’ve learned from everything I’ve read, good and bad, high-brow, low-brow, no brow.”
“I’ll always write about the oppressed and the marginalized. I cannot separate my concerns as a human being with my output as a writer.”
You can find the full interview here.