In Venezuela, Dystopian Fiction Hits Close to Home

J.G. Ballard’s High-Rise Shows What Happens When a Liberal Democracy Crumbles and Its Worst Vices Take Over

There’s a certain absurdity that comes with trying to explain—in calm, simple, and objective words—a life that has become too strange to be real. At least, that’s how I feel when talking about my home country, Venezuela, where a small bottle of water has become more expensive than a barrel of gasoline, law enforcement officials are afraid to enter prisons that are ruled by criminal gangs, and the minimum wage is less than five American dollars per month.

Sometimes, when I try to put facts and events in order, I …

Just Before Madrid’s Quarantine Began, Getting a Last Look at Goya | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

A Letter from Madrid, Where Impending Quarantine Permits a Last Look at Goya

In Times of Uncertainty, Art Is a Reminder That Beauty Can Endure

The day the Spanish government announced a two-week closure of all schools and colleges in Madrid due to coronavirus, I was in Berkana, the city’s oldest gay bookstore, considering whether …

How Venezuela’s Oil Riches Fueled a Literary Explosion

In the Mid-20th Century, Writers Seized on the Conflicts Laid Bare by Petroleum's Power to Reshape Society

On December 14, 1922, a gusher of petroleum was discovered in Zulia, a rural area of western Venezuela. For nine days the oil showered onto the surrounding farmland, scaring the …