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Marcela Valdes

Marcela Valdes is a board member of the National Book Critics Circle and a contributing editor at Publishers Weekly. Her writing also appears regularly in Bookforum, the San Francisco Chronicle, and the Washington Post. In 2000, she co-founded Críticas, an American magazine devoted to the coverage of Spanish-language books. She is currently at work on a book about Chile.


His Stupid Heart

Roberto Bolaño’s Novels Were a Love Letter to His Generation, But What He Had to Say Many Chileans Didn’t Want to Hear 1. Any account of Roberto Bolaño’s life has to be divided into at least two stages: before the publication [...]

Some Stories Have to Be Told by Me: A Literary History of Alice Munro

Summer 2006 | Essays

Sometime in the late 1970s, Alice Munro made a policy of refusing prizes that didn’t specifically honor the quality of her fiction. When the Canadian government offered her one of its highest honors in 1983—an appointment as an Officer of the Order of Canada, which would have entitled her to a pretty, gold-edged medal with the motto Desiderantes meliorem patriam (“They desire a better country”) emblazoned around a gold maple leaf—Munro politely declined. She didn’t feel comfortable, she said, with awards that celebrated celebrity. Only awards that had been earned by particular books or by particular groups of books were okay. Munro was fifty-two by then, and several such awards had already been placed, like love letters, upon her books.