CUNY Distinguished Professor at Hostos Community College Honored For His Literary Work and Contributions to Peruvian Literature

-His latest novel, Acuérdate del escorpión (Remember the Scorpion), Has also received accolades-

On October 21, 2010, Isaac Goldemberg, a Distinguished Professor of The City University of New York, a member of the Humanities faculty at Eugenio María de Hostos Community College, and the director of Latin American Writers Institute, was honored by Peru’s Department of Education and La Casa de La Literatura Peruana for his contributions to Peruvian literature.  This honor was presented to Professor Goldemberg by Karen Calderon Montoya, Director of Casa de la Literatura Peruana, during the 31st Ricardo Palma Peruvian Book Fair coordinated by La Cámara Peruana del Libro in Peru in October 2010.

Professor Goldemberg’s literary work has been lauded by many distinguished writers.  Pulitzer Prize winner Oscar Hijuelos called The Fragmented Life of Don Jacobo Lerner and Play by Play “two of the most inventive and linguistically beautiful novels by any Latin American novelist in the past forty years or so.”

Winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature Nobel Prize Mario Vargas Llosa said that “La vida a plazos de don Jacobo Lerner positions Goldemberg as one of the most outstanding authors of new Latin American literature.  During recent years, his prose, poetry, and dramatic works have revealed him to be one of the most interesting and important contemporary Latin American writers.”

Professor Goldemberg’s most recent novel, Acuérdate del escorpión (Remember the Scorpion), was introduced at the 31st Ricardo Palma Peruvian Book Fair by writers Jorge Bruce y Marita Troiano.  Published in 2010 and edited by el Fondo Editorial de la Universidad Inca Garcilaso de la Vega, Lima, Perú, this novel represents Goldemberg’s first venture into detective fiction.  In 144 pages, he briskly takes readers through a short week in the life of Simón Weiss, lead detective in two homicide cases: one, that of the Japanese owner of a popular billiard hall, and the other of a German immigrant who might have had Nazi ties.

Accustomed to working alone, Weiss is now teamed with Katón Kanashiro, a young Japanese-Peruvian police officer who eager to prove himself to the famous detective.  Set in the time of the Great Peruvian earthquake of 1970, the case has disturbed Weiss by dredging up memories that the detective, who is a Holocaust survivor and a cocaine addict, struggles to piece together.  At his side is Margarita, a bordello owner with a heart of gold who reads her own signs in the sad love songs that Weiss plays on the guitar.

Since its publication, Acuérdate del escorpión has been widely praised by critics and other writers.  Marita Troiano said that “Acuérdate del escorpión was not only written with certainty and complete knowledge of Peruvian reality, but also with flawless scenic realization, which transports readers into a toxic atmosphere and the powerless and insecure feelings of its main characters.”  Mexican writer Margo Glantz, winner of El Premio Internacional Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, calls this work “a dark delirious, parodic and effective novel, encompassing all the characteristics of the genre and paying tribute to similar previous work in literature and film.”

Argentinean writer Mempo Giardinelli, a winner of El Premio Internacional de Novela Rómulo Gallegos, said: “This new novel of Isaac Goldemberg marks the return of a great Latin American novelist.  This time, in the juicy and fascinating plot of Acuérdate del scorpion, the imagination and firm prose of this great Peruvian writer shine once more.”  According to Peruvian writer Nilo Espinoza, “without neglecting to recreate police procedures and realism, [Acuérdate del scorpion] transcends that; Implicitly, between the lines, and similarly to la kábala, the novel reveals many absolutely substantial matters, which are subject to multiple interpretations.”

About Professor Goldemberg

Peruvian born Isaac Goldemberg is a renowned Latino poet and fiction writer whose works are known throughout Latin America.  He is also a professor in the Hostos Community College Humanities Department, director of the Latin American Writers Institute, and editor of Brujula/Compass, a bilingual journal devoted to Latin American literature.  Before joining the Hostos faculty, he taught at New York University for 16 years.  In 2004, CUNY gave Goldemberg the title of Distinguished Professor.

His latest novel is Acuérdate del escorpión (Remember the Scorpion).  He is also the author of several other novels, two of which have been published in English to great acclaim, as well as a collection of short fiction, eleven books of poems, and three plays.  His groundbreaking novel The Fragmented Life of Don Jacobo Lerner, which is now in its 7th English edition, was described in the New York Times Book Review as “a moving exploration of the human condition,” and in 2001 it was selected by a panel of international scholars convened by the National Yiddish Book Center as one of the 100 greatest Jewish books of the past 150 years.

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Media Contact at Hostos Community College

Néstor Montilla 

Director of Public Relations

Division of Institutional Development

Eugenio María de Hostos Community College

of The City University of New York

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Email: nmontilla@HOSTOS.CUNY.EDU