We are not trying to reinvent ourselves at Creative Nonfiction, but as the leading voice in the genre, we are constantly testing its versatility. Theme issues on provocative and crucial subjects—such as diversity (No. 19, Diversity Dialogues) and the healthcare crisis in America (No. 21, Rage and Reconciliation)—have become a mainstay. These special issues broke publication records, far exceeding the reach of most literary journals. Together, nearly 30,000 copies are in circulation at the moment. Selections from Diversity Dialogues and Rage and Reconciliation, read aloud by professional actors, will soon be available on CD.
In this issue we have, for the first time, turned our attention to works in translation, seeking to understand how nonfiction forms have evolved outside the United States. Also for the first time, we invited a distinguished guest editor, Ilan Stavans, to help us select the essays and translators. Stavans is the Lewis-Sebring Professor in Latin American and Latino Culture at Amherst College. His own work has been translated into at least six languages.
Stavans’ introduction to the issue (see p. 3) contextualizes our selections within the literary and journalistic traditions of Mexico. He points out that for the Mexican essayist, the border between fact and fiction is much more difficult to delineate. He describes the Mexican essayist as a cronista, a chronicler more consumed by style—the way in which the story is told—than substance. Mexican writers push the factual and formal boundaries of the essay, often more aggressively than we do in the United States.
We also chose essays written in English by American and Mexican American authors. Their close looks at the country and its culture provide an outsider’s perspective.
We’re also excited to announce in this special issue devoted to Mexican voices that respected Mexican-American author Richard Rodriguez has joined our editorial advisory board.
Most theme issues embrace a single subject or collection of writings, but we are always ready to take advantage of literary opportunities presented to us. We are pleased to include here two original essays by our long-time friend and editorial advisory board member Diane Ackerman. Both are from her forthcoming book, An Alchemy of Mind.