Edwidge Danticat, Luis Urrea, & Daniel Alarcón Star at Aspen Summer Words 2012

May 15, 2012

Contact: Lisa Consiglio
Executive Director
Aspen Writers’ Foundation
970-925-3122, ext. 1# | Lisa@aspenwriters.org

The Aspen Writers’ Foundation’s 36th Annual Literary Festival, “Solazú,”
Celebrates the Stories of Latin America and the Caribbean

May 15, 2012 — Igniting a hot mix of literature and politics this summer, the Latino and Caribbean stars of Aspen Summer Words 2012 will draw on a long history of provocative writing from the south to set stories on fire for Aspen audiences. From June 17-22, the Aspen Writers’ Foundation (AWF) will celebrate the stories of Latin America and the Caribbean with a new generation of authors who conflagrate literature and politics like the maestros who proceeded them: Mario Vargas Llosa, Juan Bosch, Miguel Asturias, among them. The 36th annual festival, with the theme “Solazú,” will feature some of the most important contemporary authors of the region — Edwidge Danticat, Luis Urrea, Daniel Alarcón, Francisco Goldman, and many more — whose artful writing continues to give voice to the voiceless and bring a spotlight to injustice and rebellion, both personal and political. Aspen Summer Words will be held at the Doerr-Hosier Center, the Aspen Summer Words’ headquarters on the Aspen Meadows campus. Festival passes, starting at $150, are available from Aspen Show Tickets at www.aspenshowtix.com and 970.920.5770.

“Given the influential role Latino culture plays in our valley’s modern day story, we are delighted to honor the heritage of Latin America and to highlight some of the most prominent authors from that region,” said Lisa Consiglio, executive director of the Aspen Writers’ Foundation.

Solazú Theme

This year’s festival, “Solazú,” will celebrate the rich literary heritage of our neighbors to the south: Latin America and the Caribbean. Traveling the spine, seas, and islands of the Americas, Aspen Summer Words 2012 will explore one of the most ancient and diverse areas on the planet.  With some of the region’s most acclaimed authors at the helm, our festival will traverse vast distances — across 51 territories, 6500 miles, 14000 years, and 1000s of languages — to reveal the stories that unite us all.

Aspen Prize for Literature

During Aspen Summer Words, the AWF will present the Aspen Prize for Literature to two literary lions: Edwidge Danticat, representing the Caribbean, and Luis Urrea, for Latin America. Since 1995, the prize has been awarded annually to the writer(s) who embodies the very best writing of the region. The prize will be awarded during a special event, “Neither Here Nor There,” on June 17th at 5:30pm, when the two celebrated authors, whose lives and work inhabit the world between cultures, will share literary insights into the subjects that are as close to their hearts as they are imbued in their writing: immigration, separation, and yearning. Previous winners include: Paul Muldoon and Edna O’Brien (2005), N. Scott Momaday (2006), Ngugi wa Thiong’o and Wole Soyinka (2008), Salman Rushdie (2008), Ron Carlson (2009), Ernest Gaines (2010), and Colum McCann (2011).

Featured Authors and Performers

Danticat and Urrea are among the distinguished roster of authors and performers who will be featured at the festival:

  • Peruvian-born writer Daniel Alarcón is an editor, scholar, and author of seven books, including War by Candlelight, a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award. In their annual “20 Under 40” article, The New Yorker named him “one of the most inventive writers who have influenced modern American fiction.”
  • Kathleen Anderson is an award-winning editor and agent and the founding partner of Anderson Literary Management LLC, whose many clients include Emma Donoghue (Room), and Nadeem Aslam (Maps for Lost Lovers).
  • Erin Belieu is the author of three poetry collections, the winner of the National Poetry Series and The Rona Jaffe Foundation Award, and the founding editor of Hotel Amerika.
  • Gioconda Belli is a Nicaraguan poet, writer, and political activist, and the author of six novels, a memoir, two children’s books, and six books of poetry. She received the Biblioteca Breve, one of the most prestigious Spanish literary prizes, for her novel Infinity in the Palm of Her Hand.
  • Haitian-American writer Edwidge Danticat is an award-winning author whose novels include Krik? Krak!,The Dew Breaker, and Brother, I’m Dying, among others. She is a recipient of the American Book Award, the Story Prize, and the MacArthur Foundation ‘Genius’ Grant.
  • Francisco Goldman is an acclaimed author of four novels who divides his time between New York and Mexico City and whose books have been finalists for several prizes, including the Pen/Faulkner and the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.
  • Son of a Puerto Rican mother, Derek Green speaks fluent Spanish, has a deep interest in Latino cultures, and is an award-winning short story writer and author of New World Order, a collection of eleven short stories, each set in a different country.
  • Andrew Sean Greer is the bestselling author of The Story of a Marriage and The Confessions of Max Tivoli and the recipient of the PEN/O’Henry Prize for Short Fiction and the California Book Award.
  • Laura Fraser is an award-winning essayist and journalist and the author of All Over the Map, a travel memoir and sequel to her New York Times bestselling memoir, An Italian Affair.
  • Prize-winning author Randall Kenan’s stories span nonfiction, young adult biography, and fiction, and include A Visitation of Spirits and Let the Dead Bury Their Dead.
  • Brian Laidlaw is a poet, folksinger, and songwriter who has released numerous full-length projects and who is the creator of wolf wolf wolf, a hybrid collection of poems and songs.
  • Scott Lasser is the author of four novels — Battle Creek, All I Could Get, The Year That Follows, and Say Nice Things About Detroit — and numerous non-fiction articles that have appeared in national publications ranging from Dealmaker to The New Yorker
  • William Loizeaux is the author of two children’s novels and two memoirs including Anna: A Daughter’s Life, a New York Times Notable Book; his stories and essays have appeared in numerous national publications.
  • Orlando Patterson, a Jamaican-born American writer known for his work regarding race in the U.S. and the sociology of development, is the author of numerous academic papers, five major academic books, three novels, and the National Book Award-winning book Freedom in the Making of Modern Culture.
  • Award-winning author Benjamin Percy has penned two books of short fiction, the novel The Wilding, and countless articles in the pages of Esquire, GQ, Outside, Men’s Health, and The Wall Street Journal.
  • Irene Rawlings is the host of an award-winning, book-related radio program, the author of three books, and the skillful mastermind behind book marketing campaigns for authors such as Lisa See, Douglas Preston, and Nelson DeMille.
  • Mona Simpson is the author of five novels including Anywhere But Here, The Lost Father, A Regular Guy, Off Keck Road, and My Hollywood. Among other awards, she has been a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner and the recipient of the Whiting Prize.
  • The Three Louies are a trio of Chicano artists – musician Louie Perez of Los Lobos, author Luís J. Rodriguez, and journalist Luís Torres.
  • Raised in Tijuana, Luis Urrea is the author of 14 books, including The Devil’s Highway, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; the national bestsellers The Hummingbird’s Daughter and Into the Beautiful North; and Nobody’s Son: Notes from an American Life, winner of the American Book Award.

  • A powerhouse of Brazilian bossa nova jazz, vocalist Claudia Villela, celebrated for her five-octave range, and guitarist Romero Lubambo, renowned as the “Segovia of Brazilian guitar,” have been hailed as the biggest expression of Brazilian music in the Untied States today.

Festival Highlights
During the weeklong literary extravaganza, booklovers may choose from a schedule of over 12 hour-long events that offer rare opportunities for intimate dialogue with authors, behind-the-scenes glimpses into the publishing industry, and lively interaction between readers and writers. During a typical day, a festival passholder may partake in up to three literary events (choosing from author readings, artist conversations, craft talks, and panel discussions); take a yoga or tai chi class; attend a book party; and, with their mornings off, still have time to explore Aspen’s recreational, sightseeing, dining, or shopping prospects. A full festival schedule is available online at www.aspenwriters.org. Highlights from the program of literary performances include:

Mi Tierra
Travel the literary length and breadth of Latin America and the Caribbean as the stars of our festival introduce themselves and their home countries by way of a personal story on the theme, “Mi Tierra.”

Three Louies
Spalding Gray meets the Marx Brothers in East L.A., when this trio of Chicano artists — musician Louie Perez of Los Lobos, author Luís J. Rodriguez, and journalist Luís Torres — roll out their satirical wink at “growing up Mexican” in the U.S., an unforgettable mix of performance art, storytelling, and comedy.

An undeniable shadow of life and literature in Latin America, violence threads throughout the work of talented writers Daniel Alarcón and Francisco Goldman, who artfully, and unsparingly, render the destructive force in their novels.

Writing Retreat
Complementing the literary festival that is held during the afternoons and evenings, a morning writing retreat offers beginning through advanced workshops and classes to the registered Aspen Summer Words student. Among the workshop faculty are celebrated author-educators: Luis Alberto Urrea, Benjamin Percy, Mona Simpson, Scott Lasser, and Derek Green (fiction); William Loizeaux (memoir); Erin Belieu (poetry); Andrew Sean Greer and Randall Kenan (Young Writers). The AWF will also offer a two-day Songwriting course, a two-day Readers’ Retreat for literature lovers (no writing experience necessary) with Francisco Goldman, and a one-day Marketing Your Book seminar with marketing guru Irene Rawlings. All workshops and classes are open to the public. As of press time, limited space is still available in the following workshops: Beginning Fiction, Readers’ Retreat, Songwriting, and Marketing Your Book. To register, visit www.aspenwriters.org or contact Lauren Lowinger at 970.925.3122 ext. 4#.

The Details
Passes starting at $150, and discounted lodging are available now through June 17. Individual event tickets starting at $15 are on sale now and are available through Aspen Show Tickets at www.aspenshowtix.com and 970.920.5770. Lodging deals, with rates as low as $115 (a savings of up to 58%), can be found through the AWF’s website. To reserve these rates, contact participating hotels directly. Promotional codes and more information are available at aspenwriters.org.

The Aspen Writers’ Foundation (AWF) was founded in Aspen in 1976 as a cutting edge poetry conference and literary magazine. Today the Aspen Writers’ Foundation is one of the nation’s leading literary centers and a stage for the world’s most prominent authors, reaching over 1,150,000 literary enthusiasts globally. AWF programs employ literature as a tool for provoking thought, broadening perspectives, fostering connections, inspiring creativity, and giving voice. Since 2009, the AWF has partnered with the Aspen Institute, underscoring the highest humanistic ideals of Aspen Institute founder Walter Paepcke: to better understand human challenges by cultivating one’s inner life through the exchange of words, stories, and ideas.

The Aspen Institute mission is twofold: to foster values-based leadership, encouraging individuals to reflect on the ideals and ideas that define a good society, and to provide a neutral and balanced venue for discussing and acting on critical issues. The Aspen Institute does this primarily in four ways: seminars, young-leader fellowships around the globe, policy programs, and public conferences and events. The Institute is based in Washington, DC; Aspen, Colorado; and on the Wye River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. It also has an international network of partners. 


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