Cristian Alarcón at the Miami Book Fair: “The origin of a book is always a mystery”

Spread the love

The Chilean writer and journalist based in Argentina presented his book “El tercer paraíso”, which won the 2022 Alfaguara Novel Prize, to audiences in the south from Florida

Cristian Alarcón at the Miami Book Fair: “The origin of a book is always a mystery”

By

Leydi TorresFrom Miami

Cristian Alarcón at the Miami Book Fair: “The origin of a book is always a mystery”

At the Miami Book Fair Cristian Alarcón presented his first novel, winner of the 2022 Alfaguara Award. (nachomartinfilms)

“First garden”, “Second garden”, “Third garden”: these three chapters are those that make up the book The third paradise, with which the journalist Cristian Alarcón, known for his chronicles of When I die I want you to play cumbia and as founder of the magazine Anfibia, he won the Afaguara Award for novels in 2022. He spoke about the origin of those gardens near the closing of the Miami Book Fair , during a presentation with the journalist Gisela Salomón.

It arose from the essay “Our future”, recalled Alarcón, about hopes and the future once the end of the covid-19 pandemic. At that time, he had another book project, but he felt suffocated by the uncertainty of contagion, confinement, postponed plans. He wrote two paragraphs that he sent to his editor, who returned them with a note: “There's a book project for you.”

The paragraphs perfectly described scenes that he would later expand on in The Third Paradise. “The novel honors the real,” she associated. And for them she was inspired by his mother, her grandmother and his own life story. She returned to remove his memories, to rescue the most guarded memories.

Cristian Alarcón at the Miami Book Fair: “The origin of a book is always a mystery”

Journalist Gisela Salomón accompanied Cristian Alarcón at the Miami Book Fair. (nachomartinfilms)

It was a return to the roots. “The origin of a book is always a mystery,” she said. This one, in particular, was born “from exhaustion, from a long time of putting the body into the crudest stories.” His two previous projects were related to drug trafficking issues, and he felt he needed to write something that would bring him closer to his guts.

From journalism to fiction

Then he became fond of botany. He read and learned as much as he could about land, fertilizers, the best planting periods, how to get the most benefit from the space.

“We have been taught that there is an earthly paradise, a heavenly paradise. But they don't tell us that there is a third paradise that we yearn for, that we want to build, a labyrinth in which we can get lost and from which it is not necessary to leave”, he suggested.

And that paradise , the third paradise, can begin in a garden of dahlias.

Cristian Alarcón at the Miami Book Fair: “The origin of a book is always a mystery”

The founder and director of "Anfibia" spoke to the public in South Florida. (nachomartinfilms)

In search of a precise tone for the novel, Alarcón read a lot of poetry, listened to music and immersed himself in Mapuche literature. That underlies the narrative that he achieved.

Regarding the language of the work and the detail of the description, he assured that he is not interested in being read only by his friends: “If my novel, that it is about my ancestors, it could not be read by women who only completed the basic level of studies, I would not feel well”.

The novel is read without stopping, but with the longing for it not to end. Perhaps that is why the jury that awarded him the XXV Alfaguara Novel Prize highlighted that: “The novel opens a door to the hope of finding refuge in the small from collective tragedies. As the author says: 'Beauty begins in the wonder of flowers, as beautiful as they are finite, in which we will always see the mystery that cannot be solved.'”