I head out to the Disquiet International Literary Conference in Lisbon, Portugal, in about three weeks…it’s the Tenth Anniversary of one of the best literary gatherings anywhere—and it’s the only place where there’s a Writing the Luso Experience workshop, which I’ve run for maybe seven years now. The whole world, of course, took a hiatus in 2020 and 2021, which will make it all the more sweet to be there with my Disquiet Family, friends like Maaza Mengiste, Tayari Jones, Annie Liontas, Arthur Flowers, and Portuguese friends like Susana Moreira Marques, Teresa Tamen, and Teolinda Gersão, and plenty of new faculty members will be there too. Lisbon has suddenly become a hot ticket. I’m a little nervous about travel but excited to have the full-on Disquiet experience.
One highlight will be a visit to Beja, where I did my original research for my second novel, MARIANA, about the romantic icon who wrote famous Love Letters after her affair with a French soldier in her convent. The tilework is stunning.) Matisse, Modigliani, and many others did renditions of their idea of her, and Rilke wrote about the letters beautifully, calling them the most passionate documents in existence. Not long ago, the lovely Borrela family lost their husband and father Leonel, who was one of the curators of the Museum converted from the old convent so my reunion with them after many years will be poignant. Christopher has promised to play the piano for them. In fingers-crossed news, there is a stir of interest again in the book as a film.
Then it’s back to New York and finishing the edits on SONGS OF BROKEN PLACES, the novel that took me fifteen years. So happy it’ll be with Flatiron Books!