Monday, January 04, 2010

Stop Smiling Interviews H. C. Moya

San Salvador is the home of Horacio Castellanos Moya’s literary imagination, and although he left El Salvador’s capital city long ago, its concrete tentacles often stretch a surreal length and reach the author’s mind, regardless of where in the world he happens to be.

San Salvador is as much a character in Dance With Snakes and The She-Devil in the Mirror as the humans who inhabit the two books, published in English this fall by Biblioasis and New Directions, respectively. The city is the subject and/or setting of most of Moya’s 14 books of fiction, including La diaspora (1988), his first novel and winner of a Salvadoran National Novel Award; El asco: Thomas Bernhard en El Salvador (1997), which resulted in death threats that prompted Moya to exile himself from El Salvador; and three of his most recent novels — Donde no estén ustedes (2003), Desmoronamiento (2006) and Tirana memoria (2008) — which, as a trilogy, chronicle a family through generations of San Salvador’s history.

Dance With Snakes, published in Spanish in 1997, follows a young sociologist who assumes the identity of a beggar, and with the help of a cadre of talking snakes embarks upon a giddy spree of terror that paralyzes San Salvador. The She-Devil in the Mirror, published in Spanish in 2000, is the rambling first-person account of a wealthy young Salvadoreña who describes her efforts to solve her friend’s murder and, in doing so, the unraveling of her own psyche. Both are dark and comic, at turns violent and oddly erotic, and encapsulate portions of Salvadoran society for Moya to berate in disgust, and obliquely revere at a distance.

Moya was born in Honduras in 1957 but grew up in El Salvador, which he left for good in 1997. Before his exile he lived in Canada, Costa Rica, Mexico and Spain, and afterward in Germany and the United States. His only other book available in English is Senselessness, published by New Directions in 2008.

STOP SMILING spoke with Moya via Skype in September, while the author was in Tokyo.

For the INTERVIEW please go here.

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