Ingrid Rojas Contreras
2015 Mary Tanenbaum Award for Nonfiction Winner;
Missouri Review’s 2016 Miller Audio Prize in Prose Winner
I grew up in Bogotá, Colombia, the daughter of an ex-communist intellectual and a psychic from a line of seers; and am attracted to politics and magic like moth to a light. In my essays and stories I investigate the shifting grounds of knowledge involved in understanding the world and the self. My novel Fruit of the Drunken Tree is a story of political conflict born into the lives of children, and explores issues of class, privilege, luck, and gender and how girls and women navigate these landmines of powerlessness. It is an immigration story, drawing on the complex experience of crossing a border, where the resounding fullness of the self is also revealed to be a cavity. English isn't my mother tongue, but it is the one I choose as an immigrant whose sense of home has relied for many years on unbelonging. Both in my writing and life I am impressed by what can be translated and what is irredeemably untranslatable. I gravitate toward stories that are marginal: I have written about losing my memory after a bike accident, interviewed former guerrilla members, and am currently working on a family memoir about my grandfather, a curandero who it was said had the power to move clouds.
My lecture topics range from literature in migration, the specter of political memory and trauma, and women’s voices in fiction and oral storytelling traditions. I offer workshops on writing fiction and memoir, and craft talks on writing between languages, plotting the historical novel, and developing creative strategies for long-term projects.
Ingrid Rojas Contreras is the author of Fruit of the Drunken Tree, forthcoming from Doubleday (Penguin/Random House) in August 2018. She was born and raised in Bogotá, Colombia. She is a San Francisco based writer of fiction and non-fiction. Her essays and short stories have appeared in the Los Angeles Review of Books, Electric Literature, and Guernica, among others. She is the winner of the 2015 Mary Tanenbaum award for non-fiction, and the 2016 winner of the Miller Audio Prize from the Missouri Review in Prose. She has been a fellow at Bread Loaf Writer's Conference and the San Francisco Writer's Grotto. She has received scholarships and support from VONA, Hedgebrook, The Camargo Foundation, Djerassi Artist Residency Program, the San Francisco Arts Commission, and the National Association of Latino Arts and Culture. She is the book columnist for KQED, the Bay Area's NPR affiliate.