Famed Mexican Journalist and Local Writer to Speak at the Literary Sala
By Carole Schor
The Literary Sala is thrilled to present one of Mexico’s most acclaimed and celebrated writers, Juan Villoro, and one of San Miguel’s most prolific and entertaining writers, John Scherber, on Thursday, November 12, at 5pm at the Aldea Hotel. The evening is special in other ways also because the Writers’ Conference is launching the 2016 Big Read at this meeting. Also, you will have the opportunity to purchase tickets for Writers’ Conference events in person and to become a member of the Literary Sala.
Juan Villoro, the winner of the prestigious Herralde Prize for his novel El Testigo (The Witness) and one of Mexico’s leading journalists, will be featured as a keynote presenter at the 2016 San Miguel Writers’ Conference, where he will speak about his book, The Guilty. On November 12, we will have the chance to meet him in a more intimate setting as he discusses Mexico and magic and the allure of reading aloud to both children and adults. Villoro is a charismatic figure and highly respected journalist throughout Latin America and Spain.
In The Guilty, Villoro’s first English-translated book of short stories, Villoro explores the sometimes humorous and often paradoxical experience of being a Mexican in Mexico. The stories range in subject from soccer and sports fans to violence and desperation and are full of interesting characters, like a weary mariachi trying his hand as an actor in porn to a gluten-free gringo reporter in the story “Amigos Mexicanos.” Villoro writes as a literary witness, testifying to what is most interesting and quite often unusual in the everyday place and person.
Villoro will be here in San Miguel as this year’s featured author for Libros para Todos. More than 600 children and youth in several rural communities have already received and read their own copy of Villoro’s book, El Libro Salvaje, which is recognized as an essential work for any child or adult who is looking for inspiration and enjoyment from the world of books. Villoro will visit these communities to meet the children and sign their books. We are fortunate that he has also agreed to address the Literary Sala. “San Miguel is a version of paradise,” says Juan.
Villoro bilingual reading group
A bilingual reading group, led by Carmen Rioja, the director of the Spanish Language Writers’ Conference, has been meeting in October and November. One session remains on November 10 from 1 to 2:30pm, meeting in the Sala Literaria in Bellas Artes. Beginning Spanish speakers are welcome. Carmen is a friend of Juan Villoro and an expert on many of his books.
John Scherber is the quintessential San Miguel expatriate. He left Minnesota in 2007 and made his way to San Miguel looking for a better, new, and warmer life. “We began coming to San Miguel in the late 90s when it had the funky feeling that Europe has. I kind of like that grubbiness. Things are not always in the best of shape, and that’s okay.”
Scherber has captured the heart of Mexico not only in his nonfiction books about the expatriate experience, but also in his series of mystery novels, Murder in Mexico, action packed thrillers set here in our beloved town and revolving around arts and antiques.
On November 12, Scherber will discuss his third book about expatriates, Living in San Miguel: The Heart of the Matter. When asked why we needed one more book about moving to Mexico, John replied, “I’m trying to give people the feel of living here, the taste and texture of being here.” The new book is not a how-to book, or a manual, or a guidebook. “Go to Trip Advisor for that advice,” he says. The new book is about lifestyles here in San Miguel.
The Big Read, conference tickets, and Sala membership
The 2016 community-wide Big Read will feature the book Lovely, Dark, Deep, a collection of short stories by 2016 Writers’ Conference keynote speaker, Joyce Carol Oates. At the Sala meeting on November 12, you will have the opportunity to purchase this book, to obtain discussion questions, and to join a Big Read book group.
You will also have the opportunity to purchase Writers’ Conference tickets in person and to become a member of the Literary Sala. In addition to supporting the literary life of San Miguel, including scholarships for teens and reading projects for children in campo communities, membership in the Literary Sala offers many attractive benefits, like discounts at the monthly readings and priority seating at the huge keynote events at the Writers’ Conference.
Join us on November 12 at 5 pm at the Aldea Hotel on Ancha San Antonio. Admission is 100 pesos, 50 pesos for members, and includes a wine reception.