Palabras Bilingual Bookstore Archives

Por Vida, which inhabits an adorably decorated, prominently placed corner of Palabras Bilingual Bookstore, isn’t your typical bakery at all. You won’t find rows and rows of pastry cases or the commercial ovens that turn out dozens of baked goods at a time. Although there’s a small kitchen outfitted with an oven on the bookstore’s premises, baker and budding entrepreneur Eileen Payan actually does much of her baking at home, hauling in her cookies, puff...

Rosaura “Chawa” Magaña sits in a parked car, window down, smiling, hoisting books and a giant bottle of hand sanitizer. This image recently appeared on social media posts by Palabras Bilingual Bookstore, which Magaña has run for nearly five years. At her Spanish-and-English shop, you can find the work of contemporary Mexican novelists, indigenous poets, baby book authors who pen books like one on frybread, and other forward-thinking writers. These days, Magaña drives ordered books...

Award-winning author Alejandro Zambra, one of Chile’s most celebrated writers, is visiting Phoenix this week for a bilingual literary residency organized by CALA Alliance in collaboration with Palabras Bilingual Bookstore, Cardboard House Press and Changing Hands Bookstore. Zambra's avant-garde narrative and storytelling has made him into one of the latest Latin American literary stars. In 2010, he was named one of Granta's Best Young Spanish-Language Novelists.

This week, he has already made a surprise visit to a book club discussing Bonsái, his first book, and started his bilingual workshop “How to Forget How to Write Fiction” at Palabras.
Zambra will be at Changing Hands Phoenix, on Thursday at 7 p.m., when he’ll read from his acclaimed novels Multiple Choice, Bonsai, The Private Lives of Trees, Ways of Going Home and My Documents. He will also be the guest of honor at Palabra’s Micro-Mania event (tagged as a night of readings from micro fictions, micro food – aka tapas – and jazz) this First Friday from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.

The author, who has been named the "the most talked-about writer to come out of Chile since [Roberto] Bolaño” by the New York Times Book Review, feels the comparison a little off. “I’m probably taller than him,” Zambra jokes of his Chilean compatriot, who died from liver failure at the age of 50 in 2003. “He was a much better writer than I ever will be.”

PHOENIX magazine interviewed Zambra ahead of his book reading and signing this Thursday, and chatted about his experimental writing. (Responses have been translated from Spanish, and edited for clarity.)

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