alisa alering

Writer of fantasy and other fictions


Calvino Prize

Very pleased to announce that my story, “The Night Farmers’ Museum” was chosen by judge Robert Coover as the runner-up for this year’s Italo Calvino prize, sponsored by the University of Louisville Creative Writing Program.

In keeping with the fabulist nature of the prize, I confess that I dreamed the title of this story earlier this year and then had to write the story to find out what it was about.

Thanks to all the judges and readers, and congratulations to 1st prize winner Micah Dean Hicks for his story, “Flight of the Crow Boys,” which I am very much looking forward to reading.

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Outposts within the English language

Following up my earlier post about finding books in translation, here are some good sources for different perspectives in the English language.

And because not everything has to be about prizes:

Looking at that Essence list, you may be thinking “No way am I reading something called ‘The Enemy Between My Legs.'” But I don’t see any reason to be on your high horse. Your probably read ‘The DaVinci Code’. Some of you older folks may have read ‘Forever Amber’ or you youngsters “Gossip Girl” or the “Au Pairs” series. What I am saying is that books let you know what other people are thinking – what they are dreaming of, what they wished they thought, what authors think they wished they thought. Try one on.

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Reading Outside Myself

Of the many reasons to read, a top one for me is taking a break from my life and the particular voices in my head, to listen for a while to the voices in somebody else’s head. Even though I write, and therefore encourage loquaciousness in my personal voices, I get tired of them always nattering on about dark green forests and frog people and old ladies with no teeth. I get bored of them. After a while, I think they are all the same, and not only do they have nothing new to say, that there is nothing new to be said. By anyone. Ever.

A good cure for this is a book by somebody else. Particularly somebody not very much like me. For that reason, I make an effort to read books not written by living white U.S. of Americans. When I need a cure, the less I know about the place a writer’s coming from (geographically, linguistically, temporally, or metaphorically), the better.

Sadly, finding this medicine is an effort. I read book blogs, writers’ blogs, publisher’s emails, & my local library’s RSS feed, and as Tayari often points out, writers of color slip discreetly under the rug of the US publishing industry’s publicity machine. So do translations. (And let’s not even talk about all the great books from everywhere that never get translated. Gnash! Frustrate!)

Reading something totally alien (not just something written with the intent of “explaining” a different environment to your western middle-class self) is really invigorating. Good for your brain, just like eating fish. Don’t know where to get started? For translations try:

Whoo, that’s enough. I’m making myself dizzy, especially from Booktrust’s page with all those yummy covers.

Up next: Lesser-read voices within the U.S.