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Peru's best-selling author and journalist Santiago Roncagliolo, during an interview with EFE in Bogota, Colombia on Apr. 29, 2017. EFE/MAURICIO DUEÑAS CASTAÑEDA
Peru's best-selling author and journalist Santiago Roncagliolo, during an interview with EFE in Bogota, Colombia on Apr. 29, 2017. EFE/MAURICIO DUEÑAS CASTAÑEDA

"Europeans think I'm more serious than I am, but Latin Americans laugh at my black humor."

Peru's best-selling author Santiago Roncagliolo is in Bogota to present his Alfaguara prizewinning novel "La Noche de los Alfileres" (Night of the Pins)…

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Peru's best-selling author who refers to himself as the hitman of literature is now over 40 and begins to have a clearer perspective of how time passes, of the work he has done, and how he has taken on any story that caused fear.

"It's been quite awhile since I've found such gripping tales. All those were bought and paid for, and for a time I felt like the 'hired gun of literature.' If anyone knew of a story that would strike fear into readers they called me," author and journalist Santiago Roncagliolo told EFE, particularly recalling his non-fiction trilogy about Latin America.

Now he is in Bogota to present his Alfaguara prizewinning novel "La Noche de los Alfileres" (Night of the Pins) at the International Book Fair (Filbo), where he said he is enjoying the more mature time of his life because it gives him greater perspective knowing that he has already lived more of his life than he has yet to live.

His life's journey has been complex: he went to Mexico as a child, returned to Peru during the worst of its armed conflict and then spent much of his life between Madrid and Barcelona.

Memories of different times and different places are audible in his accent, which seems a summary of his past: he himself says that his "memories are getting stronger."

Trump as president of the United States is an episode of 'South Park'

Yet during the entire interview with EFE he was full of his usual humor: "Europeans think I'm more serious than I am, but Latin Americans laugh at my black humor."

"I've always been a little violent, I write about things that scare me and make them into fiction so other people will feel what I feel," Roncagliolo said.

For that reason in his life's work he portrays monsters with all their tenderness and affection, as a way of saying that "any normal person is two or three steps away from becoming a fiend."

"I try to explore those steps so readers wonder how much of a monster they are incubating inside themselves. I'm interested in that experiment, seeing how far we can allow things to emerge that we normally keep hidden and consequently turn ourselves into monsters," said the author of "Red April."

Violence is very present in his work and particularly Peru's armed conflict, which clearly hovers over "La Noche de los Alfileres" because it is "his" war during which he grew up, and there is "a therapeutic element" in narrating something that he experienced.

In portraying Latin America he coincides with other authors who believe that its reality is beyond anything fiction writers can invent, though he believes that happens everywhere.

"My God," he said, "Trump as president of the United States is an episode of 'South Park.'" 
 

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