Literary Reportage: The Forensics of Crisis. An International Discussion
from the Polish Cultural Institute:
Literary Reportage: The Forensics of Crisis. An International Discussion with Wojciech Tochman, Francisco Goldman, and Jonathan Brent, moderated by Marcela Valdes will take place at Idlewild Books (12 W. 19th St., New York) on Wednesday, May 27, at 7:00 PM. Followed by a reception.
On the eve of this year’s BEA, at Idlewild Books in NYC, Literary Reportage: The Forensics of Crisis: brings together three authors who have come to the field of reportage from very different backgrounds.
In his book INSIDE THE STALIN ARCHIVES: DISCOVERING THE NEW RUSSIA, Jonathan Brent, Editor-in-Chief of Yale University Press and founder of Yale’s “Annals of Communism” series, relates a tale of his own encounters with bureaucracy and everyday life in post-Soviet Russia that is as grim as it is gripping. Four-time novelist Francisco Goldman expanded a 1999 New Yorker article about the murder of Guatemalan bishop Juan Gerardi into a widely acclaimed classic of investigative journalism, THE ART OF POLITICAL MURDER: WHO KILLED THE BISHOP?, which had direct impact on the most recent Guatemalan elections. In his devastating reportage LIKE EATING A STONE: SURVIVING THE PAST IN BOSNIA, Warsaw-based journalist Wojciech Tochman follows both Polish forensic scientist Ewa Klonowska as she exhumes mass graves in Bosnia, and the families of the victims as they wait for their loved ones to be identified. Moderator Marcela Valdes is a Contributing Editor to Publishers Weekly, Books Editor of The Washington Examiner, a former NBCC Board Member, and a recent recipient of a 2010 Nieman Foundation Fellowship at Harvard University.
The status of reportage as a field of literature in the English-language world continues to be debated, and often simply dismissed, even as other genres of creative nonfiction—the essay, the memoir—rise in critical and commercial estimation. Just as novelists regularly rely on research of present-day circumstances and past events for their fictions, writers of reportage have always made use of literary techniques to structure and convey information about the real world. In many other cultures, this artistic condition of reportage is unquestioned; and in their home countries, reporters like Ryszard Kapuscinski are celebrated as literary masters, while other writers like Gabriel Garcia Marquez move easily between novels and journalism.
Coming together on the eve of this year’s Book Expo America, the three authors will discuss their own approaches, experiences, and motivations as writers, what it means to write at the intersection of literature and political, social, and historical crisis, and what significance reportage can have for readers and communities.
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