Pola Oloixarac presents "Mona," with Lauren Oyler

March 16, 2021, 7:00 PM

Pola Oloixarac joins us to present her new novel, Mona, in conversation with Lauren Oyler. This program will take place on Zoom. Register here:

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Mona, a Peruvian writer based in California, presents a tough and sardonic exterior. She likes drugs and cigarettes, and when she learns that she is something of an anthropological curiosity—a woman writer of color treasured at her university for the flourish of rarefied diversity she brings—she pokes fun at American academic culture and its fixation on identity.

When she is nominated for “the most important literary award in Europe,” Mona sees a chance to escape her downward spiral of sunlit substance abuse and erotic distraction, so she trades the temptations of California for a small, gray village in Sweden, close to the Arctic Circle. Now she is stuck in the company of all her jet-lagged—and mostly male—competitors, arriving from Japan, France, Armenia, Iran, and Colombia. Isolated as they are, the writers do what writers do: exchange compliments, nurse envy and private resentments, stab rivals in the back, and hop in bed together. All the while, Mona keeps stumbling across the mysterious traces of a violence she cannot explain.

As her adventures in Scandinavia unfold, Mona finds that she has not so much escaped her demons as locked herself up with them in the middle of nowhere. In Mona, Pola Oloixarac paints a hypnotic, scabrous, and ultimately jaw-dropping portrait of a woman facing down a hipster elite to which she does and does not belong. A survivor of both patronization and bizarre sexual encounters, Mona is a new kind of feminist. But her past won’t stay past, and strange forces are working to deliver her the test of a lifetime.

Pola Oloixarac was born in Buenos Aires in 1977. Her debut novel Savage Theories was a breakout bestseller in Argentina and Spain, and was nominated for a Best Translated Book Award; in 2010 Granta recognized her as one of the best young contemporary novelists in Spanish. Oloixarac is a regular contributor to The New York Times, the BBC, and Rolling Stone, and her fiction has appeared in Grantan+1The White Review, and in an issue of Freeman’s dedicated to “The Future of New Writing.” Previously a resident of San Francisco, CA, Oloixarac currently resides in Barcelona.  

Lauren Oyler's essays on books and culture have appeared in the New Yorker, the New York Times Magazine, the London Review of BooksHarper's, the GuardianNew York Magazine's The Cut, Bookforum, and elsewhere. She is the author of the novel Fake Accounts.