Author Federico Falco Discusses Short Fiction with Students

 Argentinian author Federico Falco discusses the differences between writing novels and short fiction, a topic among many discussed during last week’s visit to Bell Multicultural High School. 

As you could probably tell from our previous posts, we were pretty thrilled to get to work with writers from the International Writing Program last week on two WinS visits. In the interest of full disclosure, this is partially because pior to moving to D.C. to assume the deputy directorship of PEN/Faulkner, I worked at the IWP.

Among many other programs, the IWP hosts a residency each fall that brings writers from across the globe to Iowa City for three-months of writing, cultural engagement, and immersion into the world of American life and letters. And every year at the end of the fall residency the IWP travels with their approximately 30 residents to D.C. and New York City. 

Prior to last week’s visit, PEN/Faulkner worked with the IWP to get copies of Christopher Mlalazi’s new book Running with Mother, into the hands of students at Coolidge High School, and the wonderful anthology The Future is Not Ours (which includes an incredible story by Federico Falco) to students at Bell Multicultural High School. 

Two years ago, Falco was named as one of the best young Spanish-language novelists by Granta Magazine, a well-deserved title, indeed. But that accolade says nothing about how incredible Falco would be with the students at Bell Multicultural. Suffice it to say that when a student opened the conversation with the observation that one scene is his story was particularly “disgusting,” Falco laughed and proceeded to lead a great discussion of how authors aim to move readers in all sorts of ways. 

International fiction makes up just a tiny fraction of all literary fiction sold and read in the U.S. Working with the IWP was eye-opening not merely because Christopher Mlalazi and Federico Falco are strong and engaging writers, but because each provided a compelling window in to life and worlds beyond our own. And on a personal note, having so recently left life in Iowa and my job at the IWP, it was nice to see some familiar faces!

— Nate Brown