Cristina Zabalaga is a Bolivian and Portuguese writer and journalist based in Washington D.C. She has written the short stories book Nombres propios (Proper Names, Sudaquia, New York, September 2016) and the novels Pronuncio un nombre hueco (Calling an Empty Name) and Cuando Nanjing suspira (Breathing a Small Breath: An Outsider’s Guide to Nanjing). She has lived and worked in Bolivia, Spain, Germany, Belgium, Portugal and the United States. Her work explores the interaction between writing, photography and cinema. cristinazabalaga.com / cristinart.com
Breathing a Small Breath: An Outsider’s Guide to Nanjing (Cuando Nanjing suspira)
Lumen, April 2017 / 128 pages
Rights acquired by: Lumen/Penguin Random House México (World Spanish).
In Nanjing time feels different, two hundred years is nothing, only after a thousand years they start taking you seriously, writes Estela when she gets to the city to write a travel guide and bury her husband. She doesn’t know what she would write about Nanjing yet, she will decide once she gets there, she tells her editor. Estela writes unusual travel guides from around the world. Travelling she feels at home. Free. However, this time is somewhat different, because she just lost her husband and feels like a hazy negative, a crappie copy of herself. She ignores for now that on the Yangtze River Bridge she will have to face her past once more. During her stay in Nanjing, her frequent visits to the Yangtze River and the encounters with the inhabitants, Estela will find the strength and the will to deal with her personal duel and piece herself back together in this city inhabited by thousands, billions of small breaths.
Proper Nouns (Nombres propios)
Sudaquia (NY), Sept. 2016 / 144 pages
The stories in this volume play with the individual and collective identities to immerse the reader in the paradox of cultural constructions. Each name causes and invites to an endless journey of referents that incite to reflect about what is really proper. Freud is a fish, Cleopatra a envious, while Romeo and Juliet almost do not cross words.
Calling an Empty Name (Pronuncio un nombre hueco)
Editorial Gente Común (Bolivia), 2012 / 48,261 words
Calling an Empty Name, a fictional retelling of Roberto Bolaño’s life, explores multiple stories and places. Like how is to live again in Mexico City in 1976 along with Octavio Paz; or in Barcelona in 1982, where a foreign and passionate poet, almost unknown, name R is convinced he will end up dying of love; or in Chile in 1973, when the lives of poets like R where in danger jut because their ammunition was a collection of subversive words. Since the very beginning, each chapter announces something that it is not: “This is going to be a story about travels and mirrors, but it won’t seem like one”; “This is going to be a terror and noir fiction story, but it won’t look like one”. Like moving forward in a chess board that you play with words.