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Daniel Alarcon

Daniel Alarcón is associate editor of Etiqueta Negra, a monthly magazine published in his native Lima, Peru. His short story collection, War by Candlelight (Harper-Collins), was a finalist for the 2006 Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award. His first novel, Lost City Radio (HarperCollins, 2007), was named a Best Book of the Year by the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Christian Science Monitor, and Chicago Tribune. He lives in Oakland, California.


The Composer

Winter 2012 | Fiction

On the June night of Dolphy’s passing, the composer is in New York, holding forth about the size of space. An audience has gathered to hear him speak. Perhaps they recognize him, but more likely they only think they do. He is wide as a boxcar and not a little frightening, this giant of a man with a scowl across his lips. He ashes his cigar into an up-turned linen cap.

Wither the Hipster … ?

August 9, 2008 | Criticism

By now making fun of hipsters is far too easy for anyone to bother, so the Canadian magazine Adbusters has taken things a step further. The current issue’s cover story, “Hipsters: The Dead End of Western Civilization,” (over-)written by one Douglas Haddow, spares us the niceties and . . . well . . . simply pins the decline of the West on their collective skinny shoulders. Seriously.



American Labasha

Everyone in Paraguay has the same fingerprints. There are crimes but people chosen at random are punished for them. Everyone is liable for everything. Donald Barthelme, “Paraguay” Kapuścińskito Symposium Introduction Jer [...]

Pro-Torture Film Coming Soon to a Theater Near You

October 10, 2007 | Criticism

Last week I found myself wearing a borrowed suit jacket and striped shirt at the gala premiere of a new Brazilian movie called “Tropa de Elite.” I’d heard it was the best movie of the Rio Film Festival, and getting in felt like some sort of acc [...]

The Very Edge of the World

If you begin at the ocean, following Lima’s Avenida Javier Prado going east, past the residential districts of San Isidro and Magdalena, through the traffic-choked intersection with the Via Expresa, past the newly-inaugurated National Library and i [...]

South America in the 21st Century

In 1507, exactly five hundred years ago, German cartographer Martin Waldseemüller created two maps and his accompanying, Cosmographiae introductio. As a mapmaker, Waldseemüller enjoyed middling success, and today he would likely be forgotten altoge [...]

A Circus at the Center of the World

Elijah Manau was a rosy-cheeked man from the capital, and had been living in the village of 1797 for six months when the soldiers came. He was a timid man, and not without reason. To be exiled here to teach in this humid backwater was testament to hi [...]

Lima, Peru, July 28, 1979

Summer 2004 | Fiction

This story has three characters. Three important ones, that is; three worth mentioning. Others may pop in here and there, but they don't mean anything. There is the police officer, pointing his gun at me. Manolo Carrión, or so he told me from the barrel of his gun; he had a small mouth touched with a wisp of a moustache and dark eyes hidden beneath a heavy brow. He frightened me. I can admit that now.


The Digger

Fall 2010 | Fiction

I needed to rest so I rented a big house near the coast, far away from the city. I was almost there, following a gravel road toward the sea, when the thick grass made it impossible to go on driving. The roof of the house could be seen in the distance. I decided to get out.