Archive July 2007
|The Road from Barcelona to Bangkok Part 4
This is the final posting about Semana Negra 2007. A few more photographs give
an idea of the journey, the city of Gijon and some of the highpoints along the
On the “Black” train from Madrid
to Gijon with publicist Marta Oliva 6 July 2007
Each day the organizers of Semana Negra 2007 produced a
newspaper with stories, photos, and event calendar. Marta is holding up the
first edition. Along the way the train passed through the heart of Spain.
Scene from train window on the
way to Gijon.
On arrival in Gijon we were met
with a band at the train station.
Documentary film maker
and New York resident Fred Barney Taylor was on the train and covered the
festival for a documentary film.
Fred Barney Taylor in action 6
July 2007 Gijon, Spain
Susan Straub (Peter Straub’s wife)
and Samuel “Chip” Delaney provided the crowd with their own version of the
famous New York “hello”.
Susan Straub and Samuel “Chip”
Delaney Gijon, Spain 6 July 2007
The festival grounds
were located at end of the beach from the Don Manuel Hotel. It was a
two-kilometer walk. There was a festival train but most people chose to walk
along the San Lorenzo beach. Few foreign tourists have discovered this part of
Spain. It is off the beaten track. The overwhelming number of people on the
beach or the boardwalk were locals. The clouds in the distance delivered rain on
some days. According to those in the know, the locals carry their bathing
costumes in their handbag and when the clouds clear head directly to the beach.
This time of year the sunset was around 9.50 p.m. At 6.30 p.m. the beach on a
sunny day was packed. The shot below was taken with the tide out.
San Lorenzo Beach, Giyon, Spain
8 July 2007
At the end of the beach was the sign in front
of the festival grounds.
At the end of San Lorenzo Beach
Giyon, Spain 8 July 2007 was the sign for Semana
Last is a photograph of Columbia novelist Antonio
Garcia Angel who presented his novel Recursos Humanos
, with Paco Taibo
making the introduction. Antonio’s story was an interesting one, with a lot of
inside information into what it was like growing up and going to school in
Columbia. He was chosen as a novelist for the Rolex mentor programme. His mentor
was the famous Peruvian author Mario
. Antonio’s novel Recursos Humanos
emerged out of that
relationship. He had weekly phone conferences with Mario Vargas Llosa and
frequently traveled to meet the author. Europa Star
has this to say about the Rolex programme:
“Rolex launched its international program of artistic patronage in 2002,
and each cycle runs one year. It covers six artistic disciplines: dramatic art,
visual art, literature, dance, music, and film. In each of these fields, Rolex
invites a recognized master to serve as the Mentor, who will give advice and
instruction to the Protégé, a person with promising talent who has not yet
reached their full potential. The program of this one-on-one personal
relationship is established by each Mentor who decides, along with the Protégé,
how their collaboration will work. A minimum of six weeks of work together is
expected during each cycle of the year, but it is clear that each discipline
will have different specifications.”
Not enough is known about this
programme in Thailand. There were be a number of people in the Kingdom who
should be encouraged to apply.
|The Road from Barcelona To Bangkok Part 3
On 14th July 2007 I was scheduled for a presentation of the
Spanish edition of Zero Hour in Phnom Penh. It was to be held in the main
venue at 9.05 p.m. About twenty minutes before I was to go on, I notice that
Marta, the publicist who had worked the entire festival arranging interviews,
was smoking more than usual and pacing. About 10 minutes before show time, I
slipped away to the restroom. I was back five minutes later and Marta was a
nervous wreck. I was surprised to see about 250 people inside. No sooner had I
stepped into the room a member of staff pulled Marta and I to chairs toward the
front. A couple of minutes later Paco Taibo announced the Premier Book Award for Samana Negra 2007.
It was Zero Hour in Phnom Penh. As he spoke, Marta translated the
reasons why the book had been selected over hundred other novels. I tried to
recover from this shock, listening to the translation of Paco’s words. A couple
of minutes I was on stage with Paco, and gave a 30-minute presentation about how
I came to write Zero Hour in Phnom Penh during the UNTAC period. After the
presentation, the book sold out. Three books sold out during the festival, two
written by Spanish authors and Zero Hour in Phnom Penh.
A special note
of thanks to my editor Claudia Casanova and publicist Marta Oliva for their many
thoughtful gestures, for making all of the arrangements, including air tickets,
hotels, interviews. A huge amount of work went into this trip. An author is
lucky to have a publisher; he is beyond luck to have a publisher that shows such
dedication. Their kindness was beyond any reasonable expectation.
Claudia and Marta worked extremely hard to see that Zero Hour in Phnom Penh has become a commercial success in
Spain. A new printing is in the works with a banner about the Semana Negra
award. Next to be translated into Spanish with be Spirit
House, which will be issued under the title Kick-Boxing in
On 20th July I flew from Barcelona to Madrid, then onto
Doha, and finally landed in Bangkok on the evening of 21st July. It is good be
home. But this was a trip was one I won’t ever forget.
|The Road from Barcelona To Bangkok Part 2
There were many other authors from Spain, Mexico, Argentina, and Columbia. It
was a good chance to meet authors and artists from around the world. Here are
some names to watch for in the future as I expect that their books will find
their way into English. I discovered Argentina author Ernesto Mallo (La Aguja
En El Parjar), Columbian author Antonio Garcia Angel (Recursos
Humanos), and Mexican author Miguel Cane (Todas Las Fiestas de
Paco Ignacio Taibo II leading
the guitar players in song.
The head of the festival is internationally acclaimed author
Paco Ignacio Taibo II. I am currently reading The Shadow of the Shadow by Paco
Taibo and can highly recommend it. This novel is set in the time shortly after
the revolution in Mexico and Paco covers a group including a journalist, poet,
lawyer and ethnic Chinese labour organizer (who can’t speak Chinese but
nonetheless substitutes ‘l” for “r” in his speech. The book is not only funny
but a hugely entertaining murder mystery.
Miguel (right) sharing a moment
with principal festival translator Diego (left) at the Don Manuel Hotel, Gijon,
Also at the Semana Negra were graphic artists, cartoonists,
and illustrators. This was a seriously talented group of people. At lunch and
dinner I would watch them talking and making sketches on the paper tablecloth.
Some of the artists I talked with included the legendary Mexican artist, Eduardo
del Rio Garcia (Rius). Rius is a highly political artist and his creations hit
home hard. Sergi Alvarez y Sagar Fornies and Lorenzo Gomez share a dark vision
of politics and the oppression of the small guy. Hunt Emerson from the UK is a
multi-talented artists, with graphic books, comics, and illustrations to his
credit. Hunt was kind enough to draw a wonderful cartoon on the empty space on
the back of my name card, the one that hung around my neck throughout Semana
Negra. Dean Ormstom’s Vampire may be the most chilling images ever about the
long-toothed demon. Carles Santamaria y Pepe Farrugo captures the evil of
corporate board rooms along with the corporate power games. Los Otros y Nosotros
homes in on the comedic tragedy of life with a series of urban images ranging
from hitch-hiking beauties to a Goya like giant hovering over a city and
dragging the countryside into his grasp. Arthur Suydam
, one of
America’s foremost cartoonist and illustrators was at the festival from the
beginning. He has a book titled Fantastic Art of Arthur Suydam and I highly
recommend it. His cutting edge alien images are haunting. Arthur has also done
the art for the Tarzan, The Lost Adventure, Brer Rabbit, The Wind in the
Willows, and Batman. His art is in high demand in the States. Each day Arthur
holed up in his room drawing for work owed back in New York.
|The Road from Barcelona To Bangkok Part 1
Entrance to Semana Negra 2007
From 3rd to 21st July I was in Spain. I started off in Madrid
for two days. Then boarded the “black train” along with other writers, artists,
musicians, journalists, and TV broadcasters for Gijon. The train arrived on the
afternoon of 6th July. We were greeted by a band, photographers, onlookers and
local protestors who were seeking the release from prison of two men (who
apparently had already been released), but never mind. The Semana Negra or Black
week is held for 10 days every year and draws a crowd of over all million
visitors. Writers give presentations about their books at venues set up at the
Authors Peter Straub and Ernesto
Mallo at one of the many dinners held during the festival.
Authors from North America in attendance included Peter Straub
Story, ShadowLand), Samuel R. Delaney a> “Chip” (novels The
Einstein Intersection, Nova,
Hogg, Dhalgren, and the Return to Nevèrÿon
series), Lucius Shepard
Handbook of American Prayer, Viator, Life During War Time).
“Chip” Delaney in residence at