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Novel by Ángeles selected for Penguin Random House’s program

Barry McNamara
Francisco Ángeles is pictured on the lower left of this promotional flyer.
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MONMOUTH, Ill. – Monmouth College professor Francisco Ángeles has experienced a problem common to successful Latin-American authors – their books sell well in their native countries but often not in other Spanish-speaking countries.

In Ángeles’s case, his novels have done well in his native country of Peru, including his critically acclaimed fourth novel, Adiós a la revolución (Goodbye to the Revolution), which was published earlier this year.

Now readers outside Peru will have greater access to his book, thanks to the “Map of Languages 2020” program by publisher Penguin Random House. The program, which was announced earlier this month in Mexico at the world-famous Guadalajara International Book Fair, seeks to break down boundaries that exist between the literatures of the Spanish-speaking countries in the world. The project will begin with books by 12 Spanish-speaking authors, including Ángeles.

“It’s really hard to enter certain markets,” said Ángeles, who joined Monmouth’s Department of Modern Languages, Literatures and Cultures in 2017. “Outside of a core group of readers in a certain country, gaining a wider audience there is a really hard thing to do.”

Ángeles used Peru’s neighboring country of Chile as an example. He has received positive feedback on Adiós a la revolución from a Chilean film director, but noted that as someone involved in the fine arts, the director is part of that “core group” that is already being reached.

“You can reach a limited audience,” he said, “but I’m hoping that this new program will increase sales to a wider audience in countries outside Peru. Publishing houses have had to fight against this resistance for years.”

The project consists of disseminating the work of Spanish-speaking writers beyond their respective native countries, with the intention that readers can find the works and become more interested in foreign authors’ titles. The project’s long-term goal is to internationalize 60 titles within five years. The circulation for each country will have to be evaluated, but it is estimated that each nation will receive up to 1,000 copies of each featured book.

Ángeles broke through with his first novel in 2008. His second and third novels were published in 2014 and 2016, respectively. He said his latest novel ties together several themes, including love and eroticism, politics, philosophy, the relationship between the United States and Latin America, and the relationship between men and women. Perhaps most important, though, is another concept.

“This book gets into the idea of theory vs. practice,” he said. “A lot of radical scholars and people on the far left – their lives are different from the way they write. This book is about living according to your ideas – putting into practice your ideas. Is it possible?”