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Center for 'Race,' Culture and Social Justice hosts Mexican writer and professor

Center for 'Race,' Culture and Social Justice hosts Mexican writer and professor

Álvaro Enrigue, the award-winning Mexican writer and assistant professor of Spanish in the department of Romance languages and literatures at Hofstra University, spoke about his forthcoming book in Roosevelt Hall on Wednesday, Sept. 25.

Enrigue’s talk was part of the Colloquia Series at Hofstra, organized by the University’s Center for “Race,” Culture and Social Justice. The center was formed in 2017; the organization’s self-stated mission is “to promote diversity and cultural awareness in faculty hiring, curriculum and professional development.”

Colloquia Series events, which are held regularly on the last Wednesday of each month, grant faculty members the opportunity to “present their recent publications and engage with new scholarship focusing on ‘race’ and social justice,” according to the center’s web page.

The focus of “Now I Surrender And That’s All,” the title of Enrigue’s forthcoming novel and the topic of his talk last Wednesday, is very much similar in spirit to the center’s mission. “In this historical narrative, Enrigue engages with the brutal and complex colonizing process of the South and Southwest of the United States and the North of Mexico, and it reconstructs a story of resistance and resilience,” according to a post on the center’s Facebook page. 

“The title of this novel is taken from the last statement by Apache leader Gerónimo, marking both a foundational and the final moment of surrender of the ‘Apachería’ to the U.S. army,” according to a poster publicizing the event from the center.

Enrigue is known for his time-bending, norm-shattering style of writing that highlights the lives of marginalized groups throughout history, upending and reconstructing traditional historical narratives.

His 2008 novel, “Vidas perpendiculares,” is an example of this. The late Mexican essayist Carlos Fuentes compared it to the “quantum universe,” calling it “a world of coexisting fields in constant interaction and whose particles are created or destroyed in the same act.” 

Enrigue is the author of six novels and three short stories, as well as one book of essays. His works have been translated into multiple languages including German, French, Czech and Chinese. “Now I Surrender and That’s All,” originally published in Spanish in 2018, is set to be re-released in English in 2021. 

“Now I Surrender and That’s All” is similar in this regard; in the soon-to-be published novel, Enrigue “travels through these places in search of the traces of history.” The book is a “sum of history, epic, legend and western metaliterature that reflects on how the past permeates the present, and how it is reconstructed and novelized,” according to the center. 

Enrigue’s focus on those who have been marginalized throughout history is “of the utmost importance,” said Danielle Verola, a sophomore psychology major and Spanish minor. “As the daughter of an immigrant, I have seen firsthand the things my mother goes through being part of a marginalized group. Every human being deserves a voice in America, whether born here or not.” 

“History books are written by the winners of each war,” said Mike Roller, a sophomore political science major. “Marginalized groups aren’t the focus, they’re not the big picture. But they are an important part of any whole. It’s absolutely important to learn about all peoples and their experiences.”

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