Author Interview | Carla Guelfenbein: 'In the Distance with You'

Presented by ANU College of Arts & Social Sciences

The Humanities Research Centre (HRC) and the Australian National Centre for Latin American Studies (ANCLAS) welcome author Carla Guelfenbein to the ANU.

Carla Guelfenbein is a Chilean author of Russian-Jewish descent. Her works include El revés del alma, La mujer de mi vida, The Rest is Silence, Nadar desnudas, Llévame al cielo, and La estación de las mujeres. Her works are enjoyed both in Chile and internationally, topping local bestseller lists for weeks for her novels some of which have been translated into 16 languages. In the last twenty years she has risen to prominence, having been described as “One of the most important authors of the first years of the 21st century in Chile” (El Mercurio), and attracting the praise of Nobel Prize winner J. M. Coetzee who described her writing as “Subtle, clearsighted, and compassionate”.

In May 2019 Carla Guelfenbein will be an international guest at the Sydney and Auckland Writers Festivals, as well as the Humanities Research Centre on the occasion of the recent translation of her novel In the Distance with You (2018) by Other Press. This novel won the prestigious Alfaguara Literary Prize in 2015. The prize’s jury, led by the Spanish author Javier Cercas, said: “This is a novel of literary suspense, built with great narrative skill, around a memorable female character and the power of genius. The author has managed to weave love and enigmas, with a writing which is both complex and transparent”.

In the Distance with You is centres around the suspicious death of an enigmatic fictional author Vera Sigall, a character which Guelfenbein has acknowledged is modelled on a number of significant literary women including the Jewish-Brazilian author Clarice Lispector (1920-1977). The multiple narrators and protagonists include a celebrated poet and ex-lover of Sigall, a Chilean student returning from Paris to research the author’s works, and Sigall’s neighbour, all through which the reader slowly approaches the writer and mystery of the novel.

Please join Thomas Nulley-Valdés, lecturer in Spanish studies in the School of Literature, Languages, and Linguistics, for a public interview and Q&A with Carla Guelfenbein. The discussion will centre on her life, her works, In the Distance with You, and with readings in Spanish and English of the novel. The event will be followed by a brief cocktail reception. The interview will be conducted in English.