MEET THE AUTHOR: RAFAEL REYES-RUIZ

1. Could you explain your style and approach to telling this story?

All of my fiction is published in Spanish and English. I usually write a first draft --of a chapter or a short story-- in Spanish and then edit and render it into English. In some cases, I do the opposite. It depends on the setting and the characters. I tend to do dialogue in English first. It may sound convoluted, but it is the only way I know how to get my literary voice to come out.  In some ways, the Shape of Things is about how I came to write in this way through the story of a young trilingual translator who wants to be a writer, but whose literary aspirations are dampened by his financial ambition, a bit of an identity/linguistic crisis, and a conventional marriage. Because of my anthropological training (deformación profesional is closer to what I mean), I tend to approach writing projects the way I approach fieldwork, that is to observe, participate, and take notes.

2. What ideas drove you to write your story and what do you hope readers take away from your book?

I am interested in the question and the politics of historical memory, and the question and politics of truth. In The Shape of Things, as the title suggests, there is a kind of uncovering or unveiling that takes place to reveal what was previously concealed. I hope readers will enjoy the investigative aspect of the story.

3. What character/section/story challenged you the most and why?

The Shape of Things is the second book of a trilogy about Latino expatriates in Japan where each book stands on its own. The challenge for me was character development that would complement rather than overlap. The three books have different protagonists so I had to develop a back story where they would all meet or at least cross paths.

4. What is your literary philosophy?

If the question is about why I write, my partial answer is: to make sense of the world. If it’s about ethics, I would say: to be truthful. On a different note, I would say that philosophy is a kind of literature.

5. What is your advice for young writers?

Read as much as you can. Write as much as you can. Never give up.