Edmundo Paz Soldán is the author of several novels and short story collections, including The Matter of Desire and Turing's Delerium. He has won the National Book Award in Bolivia, the prestigious Juan Rulfo Award, and was a finalist for the Romulo Gallegos Award. He is an assistant professor at Cornell University. One of the few McOndo writers who live in the United States, he is frequently called upon as the movements spokesperson by the American media.
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A Conversation with Edmundo Paz Soldán about Turing's Delirium
Latin American hackers, cryptanalysis, social protests
against globalization . . . Your novel has a lot of disparate elements thrown
in. Tell us how the idea of the project came about.
I love codes. I was reading books on cryptanalysis, and there were so many wonderful anecdotes about how this arcane science had affected historical events. I thought about trying to work these anecdotes into a novel. At first, I conceived of a very intellectual novel, heavily indebted to Borges. You know, a struggle between a codemaker and a codebreaker. I wrote about seventy pages and realized that the novel was becoming too abstract. I needed something to anchor it. That is when I decided to put the cryptanalysis plot into the context of what was happening in my country of birth, Bolivia, when I started to write the novel five years ago: the social unrest brought about by the crisis of neoliberalism and the protests against globalization. I thought, then, about codebreakers confronted against activist hackers. The novel got fleshed out; suddenly instead of two main characters I had seven. I did not know much about hackers, so I started reading a ...
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