Sunday, May 11, 2014

'Viaje One Way': Miami's Spanish-language Literary Anthology

Everyone talks about this southernmost major city of the United States. Now, at last, Miami has its own book. Viaje One Way (A One-Way Journey) is the first literary anthology by authors from Miami to be published in the 21st century. Writers from different countries in Latin America and from Spain who have become assimilated yet still share commonalities reveal in their writings a Miami that is much more complex than is generally thought. 

Literature about Miami that has been written by English-speaking authors is highly respected and acclaimed and deservedly so. But what of literature about Miami in Spanish? Is there such a thing? Miami today is no longer the destination for those immigrants who simply came to perform society’s lowest-paying jobs. Without the Hispanic community, Miami today wouldn’t be the one of the world’s most alluring cities. 

For the last twenty-five years or so, the typical Hispanic immigrant coming to Miami has been one who has a university background, makes investments, and works in good-paying jobs. The arrival of these immigrants has brought about an invaluable cultural exchange in diverse areas, such as in the arts and in literature.  Today there is a small Hispanic literary ecosystem of publishing houses, magazines, reading groups, readers, and writers who have become assimilated. To become assimilated means to survive, to hold a job, to settle down, to know the boundaries of a particular culture, to have one’s papers in order, and then to write.

Viaje One Way, then, offers very detailed readings of the complex yet fascinating mosaic that is Miami today. The anthology includes selections by José Abreu Felippe (Cuba), Eli Bravo (Venezuela), Carlos Gámez Pérez (Spain), Andrés Hernández Alende (Cuba), Rossana Montoya (Peru), 
Rodolfo Pérez Valero (Cuba), Camilo Pino (Venezuela), José Ignacio Valenzuela (Chile), Gastón Virkel (Argentina), Rosana Ubanell (Spain), and the anthologists, Pedro Medina León (Peru) and Vera (Argentina).

Among the stories included: Mr. Not Guilty, which deals with the severity of the penal code in the United States, and which reminds us that the death penalty still exists in this “promised land”; Regreso a casa (Going Home) relates the nostalgia of political exile and very nearly becomes fantasy fiction; the daily routine of a young woman who has just recently arrived in this country and who tries to understand everything that she sees and hears because, otherwise, she knows that she will be left behind, is narrated in Las pirámides del Diner (The Diner’s Pyramids); the story Abducciones en la que no es y nunca fue tu ciudad (Abductions In What Is Not and Never Was Your City), about a Spanish roommate, offers the reader science fiction; and the seedy underworld of violence in South Beach with the undocumented workers and the payments made under-the-table is told in the story Cuando el azar era el pasado (When Chance Was the Past).
Viaje One Way, published by Suburbano Ediciones, will be available in both print and digital editions. The book will be presented to the public on May 22, at 8:00 PM, at Books and Books, 265 Aragon Avenue, Coral Gables, Florida.

About the editors:

Hernán Vera Álvarez, sometimes just known as Vera, was born in Buenos Aires in 1977. He is a writer and a cartoonist. He has published a book of stories, Una extraña felicidad(llamada América) (A Strange Happiness Called America), and a comic book, La gente no puede vivir sin problemas! (People Can’t Live Without Problems!). Much of his work has been featured in magazines and newspapers in the United States and in Latin America: El Nuevo Herald, Meansheets, Loft Magazine, El Sentinel, Nagari, Sea-Latino, TintaFrescaUS, La Nación, and Clarín. He lived in the United States for eight years as an illegal immigrant, working in the shipyards, in the kitchen of a nightclub, in discotheques, and in construction. 

Pedro Medina León (Lima, Peru) is the author of Streets de Miami (Streets of Miami) and Mañana no te veré en Miami (I Won’t See You Tomorrow in Miami).  He has also contributed to several anthologies. In 2009, he launched the magazine Revista Cultural Sub-Urbano (Miami). Since 2013, he has led the publishing house Suburbano Ediciones, and he is also a professor of creative writing at the Koubek Center, Miami Dade College.

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