Roy Kesey is the author of the short story collection All Over, the novella Nothing in the World, a historical guide to the city of Nanjing, and a new novel called Pacazo. His work has appeared in more than eighty magazines, and in several anthologies, including Best American Short Stories. He has been awarded two Pushcart Prize Special Mentions, the 2008 Missouri Review Editors’ Prize, and a 2010 NEA fellowship. He currently lives in Peru with his wife and children.
what are you reading now
Mario Vargas Llosa's El sueño del celta, which has the amazing real life of Roger Casement at its core, but the writing is lazy, lazy, lazy. It's kind of hard to believe MVLL himself wrote it, as opposed to maybe his intern's assistant's intern. I'd have quit reading days ago, but my kids gave it to me for Christmas, so...
Also reading George Steiner's After Babel, which is extraordinary, and I'm just now starting Hamsun's Hunger, which otherwise would have been the answer to the next question.
classic you’ve been meaning to read
Luo Guanzhong's Romance of the Three Kingdoms. I want to, I really want to, but that's got to be most of a million words. Dang, man!
last book you finished in a single sitting
Pola Oloixarac's Las teorías salvajes. A fun, smart, strange book. The first of a good many from her, I'm guessing.
book you borrowed and never returned
Do I do that? I don't think I do that. But as long as we're on the topic, Hey, dude-I-met-in-Guatemala-in-1994-who-promised-to-mail-me-back-my-copy-of-Concluding-Unscientific-Postscript-to-the-Philosophical-Fragments, hie thee to a damn post office already.
most treasured book in your collection
I also don't do that, at least not usually. I was deeply bummed, though, to see that my copy of the Lane translation of One Thousand and One Nights was in the only box of books that got ruined in the course of our move from China back to Peru via the States. My grandma gave me that book. Damn.
book you’ve planted on a coffee table to impress someone
A third thing I don't do. My wife would so kick my ass.
if you could take a cross-country road trip with any literary character
It would have to be someone I could trust, someone who'd have my back if we got into trouble, someone with strong language skills and wide-ranging scientific knowledge, because I just decided that this road trip is going to be from Shishmaref to Ushuaia. Also it would be awesome if they had a plane, in case the car breaks down.
Even better: an invisible plane.
And a golden lasso.
And that leaves just one person.
if you could subscribe to only one literary journal
Oh man. Hard. But okay: Hobart. It's just never not great.
No, hold on. You know what? I reject the premise. Thus: Ninth Letter and McSweeney's and The Paris Review and Tin House and Subtropics and Southern Review and Quarterly West too, and that's just for starters.
best thing you’ve read online recently
In the midst of a serial link chase I came across this (http://handmaps.org/recent.php?ID=121) maplike object of someone's wedding set-up, and I was just sitting there being quietly charmed by it when my daughter came up behind me and said, “Look at the mermaids!” And that sealed the deal.
most anticipated upcoming release
The first one that comes to mind is David Vann's Caribou Island—Vann's got every bit of Franzen's insight at half the length, plus wolves. And then also, when I heard the rumor that there will be a new Steven Millhauser collection coming out in August, I got a little short of breath.
recommended reading list:
Your Randomly Ordered English-Language Mixed-Genre Peru Shelf Starter Kit
- The Conquest of the Incas by John Hemming
- Conversation in the Cathedral and The Green House by Mario Vargas Llosa
- The First New Chronicle and Good Government by Felipe Guaman Poma De Ayala
- The Black Heralds by César Vallejo
- Chronicle of San Gabriel by Julio Ramón Ribeyro
- A World for Julius by Alfredo Bryce Echenique
- The Discovery and Conquest of Peru by Pedro Cieza de León
- Deep Rivers by Jose María Arguedas
- Red April by Santiago Roncagliolo
- 5 Meters of Poems by Carlos Oquendo de Amat
- The Royal Commentaries of the Incas by Garcilaso de la Vega
- The Shining Path by Gustavo Gorriti
- Seven Interpretive Essays on Peruvian Reality by José Carlos Mariátegui
- The Cardboard House by Martín Adán
- History of the Inca Realm by María Rostworowski
- Broad and Alien is the World by Ciro Alegría