Eduardo Halfon read a passage from his book, “The Polish Boxer,” to a small audience this week at the Kelly Writers House, on the University of Pennsylvania’s campus. Halfon, wrote this novel in Spanish and oversaw its translation to English with five other translators.
Lea la historia en español aquí: https://www.pontealdia.com/philadelphia/un-tesoro-de-donde-sacar-palabras.html
His novel includes the story of how his grandfather survived Auschwitz under Nazi rule. Halfon revealed that his mother never knew about her own father’s story, it was a story that Halfon’s grandfather revealed to him.
Halfon said, “I’m not a writer by training, I was never into books, I was good at math and I was an Engineer by nature.” After his grandfather told him how he survived the Holocaust, it wasn’t until seven years later that Halfon published it.
Although Halfon was born and raised in Guatemala and grew up with Spanish as his first language, he later forgot Spanish when his parents moved to the United States. By the time Halfon finished college he could barely speak Spanish upon his return to Guatemala. He lives in Nebraska today.
In Guatemala, Halfon worked as a part-time engineer, while he began to indulge in reading fiction literature.
Sandra Toro, a member of the audience focused on her familiarity with Halfon’s writing and said, “Reading his novel is like reading something a cousin of mine would write.”
Although Halfon is Jewish, Arab, Spanish, Guatemalan and American he said, “I still feel like an outsider, I don’t feel like I belong to any one group or country.”
Halfon spoke a lot about his struggle with language and said, “It’s great to have two mother tongues, because you have a treasure box of words you can pull from.”