Audio Transcript:

Marco Werman: So, one of the great things about hosting The World is that I get to learn about things I probably wouldn't even know about otherwise. Here's a great example: [Speaking Spanish]

That's the voice of Chilean writer Álvaro Bisama. He's reading an excerpt from his novel "Noise." What you're not seeing is the beautiful animated film that goes with his reading. It's eerie but full of magical realism and trippy colors and it's up now at our website, PRI.org. The short film was produced by our partners at Radio Ambulante, working with Colombian artist and illustrator Nelly Ragua. Radio Ambulante's Daniel Alarcón says Bisama's novel tells a powerful story set during a traumatic period in Chile's recent history.

Daniel Alarcón: It's about being a child during the dictatorship, during the dark Pinochet years. He himself was raised in a town called Villa Alemada, which is sort of comparable to Seattle in some ways, like the grunge capital of Chilean rock and a place with a lot of mysticism and a lot of history and a lot of great bands have come out of there. He grew up during this time and we selected an excerpt that sort of captures some of the most powerful images from that text.

Werman: Tell us what we're seeing.

Alarcón: We're seeing the train that takes people to the coast, we're seeing the long distance phone calls with exiled relatives living in Europe and Mexico. We're seeing skulls representing the dead, and unidentified grave sites. We're seeing all of that and those are the stark memories from his own childhood.

Werman: Tell us more about Álvaro Bisama, this is a writer whose work was brought to life in this animation. You actually got to know him, right?

Alarcón: Yeah, Álvaro is a friend of mine, we've known each other since 2007. He's written 3 or 4 novels now that I think are just really, really great. They're very musical, very rhythmic and you can hear that in this excerpt that we have.

Werman: Did you get a sense of what motivates him as a writer and why he ended up in the camp full of punk rockers and not some other group?

Alarcón: I think it was just the cultural of Villa Alemada. It was kind of a bedroom community and people would take the train in and the kids were left on their own basically, is what he tells me. There were no adults around during the day. Everyone went to either the city, Santiago, or the coast to work and the kids created their own culture. It sounds to me just like an absolutely bizarre place to grow up and God bless writers who have the talent to encapsulate that.

Werman: With the subtitles in this animation, I found myself getting happily schooled in Spanish. Was part of this idea to bring another dimension to Radio, to make Spanish literature more accessible to a non-Spanish audience?

Alarcón: I kind of have a foot in both worlds, in American letters and Latin American letters and I feel really happy to be able to connect those two worlds. So to bring Álvaro's piece into English with these images, with those subtitles, yeah it's part of our mission as Radio Ambulante, it's part of a personal mission of mine to get them an audience that they deserve.

Werman: Daniel, thanks for speaking with us. Great to talk to you.

Alarcón: As always Marco. Take care.

Werman: Daniel Alarcón of Radio Ambulante which is supported by the New Visions, New Voices project. You'll definitely want to check out the animation created by Nelly Ragua and Álvaro Bisama. That's at PRI.org.