From Rio to River Plate

The Free Word Centre in London played host to a joint book-launch event on Monday night, as The Football Crónicas and The Book of Rio (from Comma Press) shared the stage. Lucy Greaves, the centre’s translator in residence, chaired a discussion that featured Toni Marques, co-editor of The Book of Rio, and Jethro Soutar, co-editor of The Football Crónicas. Jethro had also translated one of the pieces in The Book of Rio, a collection of Rio-themed short stories, as had Lucy.

The trio were joined by... an empty chair. Diego Trelles Paz had finally overcome the visa troubles that had kept him away from Monday’s The Football Crónicas Cambridge event, but was nowhere to be seen. The Free Word Centre is home to English PEN and it is a PEN initiative to use empty chairs to symbolise persecuted writers around the world. In Diego’s case, it was nothing more sinister than the British weather and traffic conspiring against him, but his absence was an opportunity to reflect on imprisoned writers everywhere.

Lucy got the ball rolling by asking Jethro how The Football Crónicas came about. He talked about the initial idea, the crowdfunding campaign and setting up a publisher, as can be read on the Free Word blog here.

Toni then talked about the Rio book and how he set about choosing the authors, seeking variation in backgrounds and subject matter.

A sudden moment of drama then saw Diego come bounding down the stairs and onto stage, making his apologies before providing a bit of background to his story, ‘Football and Plague’ - a tale of a hijack-gone-wrong played out to the backdrop of radio commentary of the 2000 Peruvian league-title showdown between Universitario and Sporting Cristal - before joining Jethro (the story’s translator) and Tim Girven (co-editor of The Football Crónicas) to read from it.

Toni and Lucy then read (Toni in Portuguese; Lucy from her English translation) before a flurry of questions from the audience – including one from Jan Rocha, co-writer of Brazil Inside Out, from the Latin America Bureau – led to book signings and drinks in the next room.

It was an engaging evening and The Football Crónicas would like to thank the Free Word Centre for organising the event and Lucy and Katie Slade (Comma Press) for the invitation.

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