For centuries, people from the most varied places on Earth traded spices: cinnamon and black pepper, nutmeg and ginger. It’s easy to see why: we all cook the same stuff–meats, vegetables–so we cherish the magic powders that make it taste like new, or at least mysterious. The same principle works for cultural distinctions. We’re all the same at the core, but we savour le difference: the quirks, customs and follies the rest of the world puts into practice every day. Because these uncommon flavors are of great service to us: they allow us to see the human experience–that old warhorse–in a new light.
I’m a Latin American, Buenos Aires born–Buenos Aires, that somber city–and go at things as I have been nurtured: reading Borges and Cortázar in Spanish, listening to The Beatles and Jacques Brel and watching every movie and TV series I could gorge on, from Orson Welles and Fritz Lang to The Wire and Les Revenants. So I am made from myriad pieces, everyone and no one. And I write in the peculiar voice I developed (voices are like fingerprints), hoping to reach all readers of goodwill and reasonable taste, no matter where he or she was born.
—Marcelo Figueras was born in Buenos Aires in 1962. His novel Kamchatka was a 2011 O Magazine Summer Reading Pick and was short-listed for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize. He is also a filmmaker and journalist.
2paragraphs gives special thanks to Anderson Tepper for curating our International Writers Interviews. Mr. Tepper is on the staff of Vanity Fair and is a Contributing Editor at Words Without Borders.