Peru is a country where more than half the people would emigrate if given the chance. That's half the population that is willing to abandon everything they know for the uncertainty of a life in a foreign land, in another language.
I have to really think hard about how to structure sentences, and do more mapping when I sit down to write, so it does impose a certain discipline, intellectual and linguistic.
How emigration is actually lived - well, this depends on many factors: education, economic station, language, where one lands, and what support network is in place at the site of arrival.
I love to walk through the streets of Jesus Maria and Pueblo Libre. The Spanish colonial buildings are in bright colors, two stories high, with these intricate wooden, windowed balconies.
I do feel fortunate to have some knowledge of the great Latin American writers, including some that are probably not that well known in English. I'm thinking of Jose Maria Arguedas, whom I read when I was living in Lima, and who really impacted the way I viewed my country.
I love the novel because it's like a love affair. You can just fall into it and keep going, and you never know where it's going to take you.
I think I'm an American writer writing about Latin America, and I'm a Latin American writer who happens to write in English.
As a boy, I wanted to be the Peruvian Diego Maradona. Sadly, Peru hasn't made the World Cup since 1982, so I guess I did well to choose something different.
When I started writing seriously in high school, English was the language I had at my disposal - my Spanish was domestic, colloquial, and not particularly literary or sophisticated.
When I was younger, I was able to write with music playing in the background, but these days, I can't. I find it distracting. Even when the music is just instrumental or has lyrics in a language I don't understand, the clash between the voices in my head and the song can be very disorienting.
For fiction, I'm not particularly nationalistic. I'm not like the Hugo Chavez of Latin American letters, you know? I want people to read good work.
Writing a novel is not at all like riding a bike. Writing a novel is like having to redesign a bike, based on laws of physics that you don't understand, in a new universe. So having written one novel does nothing for you when you have to write the second one.
At the most basic level, I appreciate writers who have something to say.
The impact of any particular writer on your own work is hard to discern.
I began visiting Lima's prisons back in 2007, when my first novel, 'Lost City Radio,' was published in Peru.
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