A Writer Comes Home to Death Threats

Words Without Borders has a short essay by the Salvadorian author and personal favorite Horacio Castellanos Moya. In it, he discusses how he discovered the death threats occasioned by his novel El Asco, whose title has been translated as "Revulsion: Thomas Bernhard in San Salvador."

Ten years ago, in the summer of 1997, I was visiting Guatemala City and staying with a friend when the phone rang in the middle of the night. It was my mother calling from San Salvador: badly shaken, she said she had just received two phone calls from a threatening man who told her I was going to be murdered on account of a short novel I had just published a few weeks prior. Despite the fact that my mouth had gone bone dry from the sudden shock and the feeling that my blood pressure had gone through the roof, I managed to ask her if the caller had identified himself. She said no, he had not, but that he had made his threat in earnest. She asked me worriedly if, under the circumstances, I was still going to come home as I had planned.

The novel which aroused such wrath is called Revulsion: Thomas Bernhard in San Salvador. I had written it a year and a half earlier in Mexico City, as a stylistic exercise in which I attempted to imitate that great Austrian writer, as much in his style, which is rooted in cadence and repetition, as in his content, which consists largely of acerbic criticism of Austria and its culture.

Moya discusses El Asco in our interview with him.

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American writer against death threats

you know what i think against people who make death threats against writers – fuck off!

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