S3, Ep. 4: Alejandro Varela & Rumaan Alam

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Greenlight welcomed author Alejandro Varela to celebrate his debut novel, The Town of Babylon--named a Most Anticipated Book of 2022 by Literary Hub, Electric Literature, Buzzfeed, Lambda Literary, and more. Varela probes the intertwining of community and self and renders an intimate portrait of queer, racial, and class identity in this moving, politically engaged tale. Andrés, a gay, Latinx professor, returns to his suburban hometown to help his ailing father and ends up attending his 20 year high school reunion, which brings him back into contact with the many characters from his youth: his first love who is now married with children, his former best friend who is being institutionalized for mental illness, a man he thinks killed someone in high school in a homophobic rage who is now a minister, and more. In conversation with Rumaan Alam (Leave the World Behind), Varela discussed “public health fiction”, the distance between experience and fiction, the liberatory politics of queerness, and the basic desire to figure out “how one can stand to live in this world and enjoy it.” (Recorded May 4, 2022.)

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