Awarded by the PEN Club France, la Maison de L’Amérique Latine, and la Societé des Amis et Lecteurs de Roger Caillois, the Prix Roger Caillois is given out annually to both a Latin American author and a French author, and this year, Rodrigo Fresán
(The Invented Part
, The Bottom of the Sky
) is the Latin American recipient!
Roger Caillois helped bring the work of Borges and Neruda to France, which is why this prize, which started in 1991, honors writers from both sides of the Atlantic. If you look over the names of the Latin American winners, you'll find quite the hit list of influential writers: José Donoso, Adolfo Bioy Casares, Mario Vargas Llosa, Carlos Fuentes, Alberto Manguel, Sergio Pitol, Ricardo Piglia, Cristina Rivera Garza, and Roberto Bolaño, among several others.
Although the press coverage is just starting to appear, there's already a great piece in Pagina 12
, an Argentine newspaper. Since Fresán just so happened to be in Argentina when this was announced, they were able to get some interesting comments from him about what it's like having his first prize be from France rather than Argentina or Spain (he links this up with Borges's "The Argentine Writer and Tradition), and there's even a reference to how he was born "clinically dead," which is why his books start with endings.
This announcement comes on the heels of Adam Thirlwell selecting The Invented Part
(along with Ricardo Piglia's The Diaries of Emilio Renzi
) as one of the "best books of the year" for Bookforum
According to Thirlwell, "[The Diaries of Emilio Renzi
] is something to be celebrated, just as we should celebrate the translation of another vast Argentinean bildungsroman of reading and writing, Rodrigo Fresán's The Invented Part
, translated by Will Vanderhyden. Both novels offer one form of resistance to encroaching fascism: style
The Invented Part
is the first of five books by Fresán that Open Letter will be publishing. (Next up is The Bottom of the Sky
in May 2018.) This novel is so incredible that we ended up creating a new podcast just to spend weeks with it. The Two Month Review
podcast—now in its third season, see below—takes a single book and discusses it section-by-section, week-by-week, enjoying it, dissecting it, talking about it in a passionate, enjoyable way.
Anyway, if you haven't read The Invented Part
yet, you should use the code 2MONTH
at the Open Letter
checkout and get 20% off, then download this Word doc
that collects all of the essays written about The Invented Part
for the podcast, along with links to each of the episodes. Totally biased, but this really is the best way to dig into what may well be Fresán's magnum opus.