An increasingly hot topic in literary studies and in the area studies fields, such as American Studies is the relationship between writing, place, identity and belonging. Evidence of this agenda getting more and more important can, for instance, be found in the proposed topics for conferences and seminars worldwide. In Denmark the next big Am. Studies event, the Nordic Assosciation for American Studies' biannual conference, has as its theme Cosmospolitanism. Among the many questions the conference invites us to contemplate is the following:
Does the prominence of writers such as Junot Dìaz, Francisco Goldman and Jamaica Kincaid-or the focus on border regions and bilingualism in the works of older writers like Cormac McCarthy-suggest a cosmopolitan turn in contemporary "American" literature?
YOU BEGAN WRITING AT THE AGE OF THIRTY-ONE IN DENMARK. HAD YOU EVER CONSIDERED BECOMING A WRITER WHILE YOU LIVED IN CHILE?
I grew up in a poor Chilean barrio with a strong, old-fashioned macho culture. I would not say that I found writing feminine. In fact, I always found writing an interesting activity. But I just did not consider it to be masculine enough. As a boy, and later as a teenager, all I wanted was to be a football player or a boxer. With
those images in my mind, I do not think I would ever have become a writer in Chile.
HOW DID DENMARK INFLUENCE THIS DECISION?
The idea of writing began taking shape after I had been in Denmark for eleven years, when I realized that maybe I was never going to return to Chile. At that point, I understood that Chile was left behind, and that Denmark was no longer a transitory place in my existence. It sounds paradoxical but I felt a kind of emptiness which nevertheless liberated a lot of new feelings. Suddenly I was able to look back and ahead, to look at myself in a new way.