Carolina De Robertis is the author of Perla and The Invisible Mountain, which was an international bestseller translated into fifteen languages, the recipient of Italy's Rhegium Julii Prize, and a Best Book of 2009 according to the San Francisco Chronicle; O, The Oprah Magazine; and BookList. Her writings and literary translations have appeared in Zoetrope: Allstory, Granta, The Virginia Quarterly Review, and elsewhere. She is the translator of Alejandro Zambra's Bonsái, which was made into a feature film, and Roberto Ampuero's internationally bestselling The Neruda Case. De Robertis has been awarded a 2012 fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.
De Robertis grew up in a Uruguayan family that immigrated to England, Switzerland, and California. Prior to completing her first book, she worked in women's rights organizations for ten years, on issues ranging from rape to immigration. She lives in Oakland, California.
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Did you purposefully set out to retell the history of Uruguay through the eyes of women?
In a way. I knew, when I began, that I wanted to write a narrative inspired by the family stories I had heard while growing up, from my parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents generations. It quickly became clear that the history of Uruguay itself was also central to the project and that women would form the heart of the book. In my familys oral tradition, the male ancestors tended to come with long, elaborate stories, while the women were often summed up in a brief sentence or two. Where did they come from? What did they see in their world, and breathe back into it? What treasures lie buried in their silence? One of the marvelous things about fiction is its ability to excavate, explore, or reinvent such treasures, when the original truths have been lost.
The novel spans the lives of three different women over 90 years. Was it challenging to develop a project of such a broad scope?
Lets put it this way: it was an adventure, and like many true adventures, it involved setting out without a map, a compass, or an inkling of how long or arduous the road would be. If I had known what would be required, how many years...
Blood at the Root
"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
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