Sandra Cisneros, widely acclaimed authority on Chicano and bicultural issues, will keynote the San Miguel International Writers’ Conference this February. The author of the million-copy best seller The House on Mango Street will present a talk titled “Living in los Tiempos de Sustos” (Living in the Time of Fear).
Others among the faculty of 42 distinguished writers include Elinor Lipman, author of nine novels, and Mexican author Mónica Lavín, who recently received the prestigious Elena Poniatowska Prize, awarded by the Mexico City government for her novel Yo la peor (“I, the Worst”) about Sor Juana de la Cruz.
Topics at the sixth annual bilingual conference—to be held February 18 to 20 in historic San Miguel de Allende, Mexico— will include discussions on travel writing, crime fiction, feature articles, personal essays, screen writing, and poetry.
Although San Miguel is known for its large and active gringo community, the San Miguel Literary Sala (www.sanmiguelliterarysala.org), which produces the conference, is committed to including locals in its activities. All conference general sessions are simultaneously translated, and some of the workshops are offered in Spanish. Additionally, the conference will include an intensive workshop in creative writing for 30 promising San Miguel high school students, who will also attend the conference free of charge.
The need for literary events in Spanish was presented in a 2005 UNESCO report outlining the low numbers of readers in Mexico. According to the report, Mexicans read on average just over two books per year, while Swedes, for example, finish that many every month.
The cost of the entire three-day conference is US$375. This includes breakfast every day, a meal in the country, lectures, mini-workshops, and a spectacular Mexican fiesta. Last year’s keynote speaker, Barbara Kingsolver, was so enchanted by the fiesta that she wrote about it in an essay in the paperback edition of her novel, The Lacuna, calling it ” . . . one of the 10 best parties I have attended in my life, and I’m sure I can’t remember the other nine.”
More information on the conference can be found at www.sanmiguelwritersconference.org.