Gabriela-Aleman-2021-foto-by-Jimmy-Mendoza-500x500 Villalon

Wednesday, May 18, 2022, 6:00 pm PST

Gabriela Alemán in conversation with Oscar Villalon

Price: Free (Registration Required)

City Lights in conjunction with Zyzzyva celebrate the publication of Family Album: Stories, published by City Lights Books, Ecuadorian author Gabriela Alemán’s rollicking follow-up to her acclaimed English-language debut,Poso Wells.


This is a virtual event that will be hosted by City Lights on the Zoom platform. You will need access to a device that is capable of navigating the internet. If you have not used Zoom before, you may consider referencing Getting Started with Zoom.

City Lights in conjunction with Zyzzyva present

Gabriela Alemán in conversation with Oscar Villalon

celebrating the publication of Family Album: Stories published by City Lights Books

Family Album is Ecuadorian author Gabriela Alemán’s rollicking follow-up to her acclaimed English-language debut, Poso Wells.

Alemán is known for her spirited and sardonic take on the fatefully interconnected–and often highly compromised–forces at work in present-day South America, and particularly in Ecuador. In this collection of eight hugely entertaining short stories, she teases tropes of hardboiled detective fiction, satire, and adventure narratives to recast the discussion of national identity. A muddy brew of pop-culture and pop-folklore yields intriguing, lesser-known episodes of contemporary Ecuadorian history, along with a rich cast of unforgettable characters whose intimate stories open up onto a vista of Ecuador’s place on the world stage.

From a pair of deep-sea divers using Robinson Crusoe’s map of a shipwreck to locate sunken treasure in the Galapagos Archipelago, to a night with the husband of Ecuador’s most infamous expat, Lorena Bobbit, this series of cracked “family portraits” provides a cast of picaresque heroes and anti-heroes in stories that sneak up on a reader before they know what’s happened: they’ve learned a great deal about a country whose more well known exports–soccer, coffee and cocoa–mask an intriguing national story that’s ripe for the telling.

Gabriela Alemán was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. She received a PhD at Tulane University and holds a Master’s degree in Latin American Literature from Universidad Andina Simón Bolívar. She currently resides in Quito, Ecuador. Her literary honors include a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2006; member of Bogotá 39, a 2007 selection of the most important up-and-coming writers in Latin America in the post-Boom generation; one of five finalists for the 2015 Premio Hispanoamericano de Cuento Gabriel García Márquez (Colombia) for her short story collection La muerte silba un blues; and winner of several prizes for critical essays on literature and film. Her novel Poso Wells was published in English translation by City Lights in 2018.

Oscar Villalon is the managing editor at the literary journal ZYZZYVA. His writing has appeared in Freeman’s, the Virginia Quarterly Review, The Believer, Stranger’s Guide, Literary Hub, and other publications, and in the anthology There’s a Revolution Outside, My Love: Letters from a Crisis (Vintage). A former board member of the National Book Critics Circle, and a former book editor at the San Francisco Chronicle, he lives in San Francisco.

Praise for Family Album by Gabriela Alemán

“We never know for sure what Gabriela Alemán’s characters are up to. Intrigue, deception, and seduction are right around the corner. Maybe this is because the worlds Alemán creates–at once explicit and evocative–are contested terrain, never solid ground. There, broken souls contend with noble ones in search of new lives, for History seems to have left them all in its wake. Approach these stories with caution: the pervasive underground voices that drive the characters will take the reader prisoner as well.”–Rodrigo Fuentes, author of Trout, Belly Up

“I am stunned by Gabriela Alemán’s ability to shift the settings of her stories, transform the textures of her prose, and populate her narrative with such a variety of characters. Family Album is a compendium of all the writers who coexist inside her. I still don’t know how she manages be so good in so many different ways.”–Antonio García Ángel, author of Su Casa Es Mi Casa

“Gabriela Alemán knows that the best way to depict the extended family of the nation is to include everyone from the heroic grandparents to the outcast aunts and uncles and the lost cousins. In her stories we discover an Ecuador more complex and diverse than the one we knew before. This is a magnificent book to enter the universe of this indispensable author.”–Edmundo Paz Soldán, author of Turing´s Delirium

“Gabriela Alemán’s stories pack all the intrigue of a novel into just a few short scenes. ‘Summer Vacation, ‘ set on the ever-mysterious Galapagos off the coast of Ecuador, is a haunting tale that you’ll want to read with the lights on–and to check over your shoulder after you turn the final page.” –Karen Abbott, New York Times bestselling author of The Ghosts of Eden Park

“Gabriela Alemán takes us through the back alleys of Ecuador’s cultural imagination, conjuring up buccaneers and baronesses, luchador movie stars, Biddy Basketball Leagues, and someone named Lorena Bobbitt. The stories in Family Album are dark, witty, and beautifully strange. Reading Alemán is like trying to touch the seabed with your toes: the depths of her craft are seemingly endless.”–Stephan Sebastian Herrera, 2021 PEN Emerging Voices Fellow

“It’s no easy feat to convey the gamut of human experience in any single text, yet Family Album does just that: the writing enthralls its reader with beautifully executed portraits of the human race in all its indignity, desire, rage, and poignancy. Alemán crafts her stories with the touch of an ultimate seeker.”–Eugenie Dalland, editor of Riot of Perfume Magazine

“A fresh, vibrant, and original look at a fascinating part of the world that few of us here in the United States know much about.”–Dalt Wonk, author of French Quarter Fables

“Gabriela Alemán’s mesmerizing prose takes us places we’ve never been to meet and understand people whose lives on the margins of society she depicts with profound psychological acuity and compassion.”–Josephine Sacabo, author of Structures of Reverie

This event is made possible by support from the City Lights Foundation

Type of Event:

Registration Required:

Start Date:
Wednesday, May 18, 2022, 6:00 pm PST

End Date:
Wednesday, May 18, 2022, 11:00 pm PST


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