1.29.2004

Angelica Gorodischer

Looking over the “best of the year” feature over at Fantastic Metropolis it’s gratifying to see that Angelica Gorodischer’s novel KALPA IMPERIAL, translated from the Spanish by Ursula LeGuin, features on no less than five of the lists, including my own.

Angelica Gorodischer is seventy-five years old, has been married for over half a century, has five grandkids (last I checked), is a committed feminist, is happy to jet off to the farthest corners of the world for a conference at a moment’s notice and is one of the most vibrant people I know. I met her last year at the behest of Gavin Grant of Small Beer Press, the publishers of KALPA, who was looking for someone to interview Angelica in Spanish (she speaks English fluently but preferred to be interviewed in her native tongue) and then translate the interview into English for placement in an English language online or print publication. As someone who’d been an admirer of Angelica’s stories for some time I was quite happy to take on the responsibility.

We had a very enjoyable time conducting the interview over email and when it was nearly done I told her if she should ever come to New York City she had a standing invitation to lunch or dinner from me. I didn’t quite expect her to take me up on it – travel from Argentina is actually quite long and expensive and the severe economic crisis in the country has caused even the middle class to curtail all but the most necessary expenses.

So I was happily surprised when she called me a few weeks later to tell me that she’d managed to work out a trip to Wiscon, would be stopping in New York City for a single day and would I still be interested in lunch?

“Absolutely!” I responded. “Just tell me what you’d you like to eat!”

“Something exotic,” she replied. “And make sure to wear a yellow rose in your lapel so I’ll recognize you.”

So we ate at the Thai-French restaurant Vong, had a few glasses of wine with lunch and continued the interview for a couple of hours. She inscribed one of her books to me with “Creo que este es el comienzo de una bella amistad” (in any language it’s still a famous line from Casablanca) and afterward we took a little walk around Barnes & Noble. I then saw her off to the Met.

My only regret is that I was a few minutes late for lunch because a meeting ran over and as a result I forgot the yellow rose. She gave me a hard time about that for the entire afternoon.

My interview with Angelica Gorodischer is here, at Fantastic Metropolis, together with an excerpt from the book. And do yourself a favor and buy a copy of KALPA IMPERIAL. It’s well worth it.

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