Carmen Boullosa won the Xavier Villaurrutia Prize in Mexico, Liberatur in Germany and Anna Seghers, and in Madrid of novel Café Gijón. She was alos a Guggenheim Fellow, the Cullman Center in New York, the Mexican Writers Center resident and writer of the DAAD head office in Berlin.
Boullosa, who serves as an author for the Editorial Santillana México (which forms part of Grupo PRISA), also served as visiting professor in the universities Columbia, Georgetown, NYU and Chair Alfonso Reyes at the Sorbonne. She formed part of the faculty of the University of the City of New York and participates in the television programNew York (www.Cuny.tv), which has received four NY-Emmys. She publishes a fortnightly column in the Universal. She’s part of the Sistema Nacional de Creadores.
Her book titled, Texas, details the loss of half of Mexico’s territory. Texas is a history of armed men by need or by taste and women untamed, chronicle of cowboys and apaches, of African-Americans and immigrants from different origins, comancheros and captives, from slavery and insurgents.
Living Out Loud: What are some ways by which to promote reading, not just here in Los Angeles but around the world?
CB: Fairs like LeaLA. They don’t just promote reading, but they also belong to an intellectual community and as such, can stand alone in comparison to other social entities. As far as promoting reading in general, it all starts at home. Parents have to read to their kids. This is essential for their future, and then the most important thing is school and how education in a way cultivates readers. Reading isn’t spontaneous. It’s something that has to be taught and learned. That’s the key to having a world or readers.
LOL: Let’s discuss your most recent book, Texas. What can you tell us about it, and what motivated you to make it a reality?
CB: I found a character that I wasn’t familiar with before. At first I thought of using this character to do a newspaper comic strip. I like to collect characters not just those whom I would use for a novel, but also those whom I could do a short narrative on. When I realized this character was so important in the Latin world, and how important it was in its time, and how many followers it had, it caught my attention. Also, the fact that people are forgetting this very significant character also caught my attention. This was the first icon to use the phrase ‘La Raza’ on his trips to the U.S. Besides being a man of arms, this was a person who was an important figure during this time, and it’s curious to see how he became that way involuntarily. He was a wealthy Mexican landowner who accepted American nationality thinking he would keep all his rights, and it wasn’t so. Therefore, the character caught my attention but when I approached the world that gave birth to this character, what really caught my attention then was Texas and how complex it is, and how important it was for Mexico. So I involved myself in it completely, and it went from a character I keep to reality.
LOL: What advice can you give the youth out there who might one day want to follow in your footsteps and embark on a career in writing?
CB: I feel that young people will make better sense out of life if they acquaint themselves with books. Reading is a vaccine against any type of boredom, any type of laziness; it’s the possibility of making sense of the world. So I would advice young people to read, not just to promote my career, but also because I believe it is an elemental way to defend the art that is our lives. Without reading, there is no way to do that.