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Last night the metro library program Club Book came to Wentworth Library in West St. Paul with Colombian-born author Ingrid Rojas Contreras. She’s the author of Fruit of the Drunken Tree, one of 2018’s breakout fiction debuts.
Inspired by the author’s life, the book tells the story of two young girls in Columbia set against the backdrop of drug kingpin Pablo Escobar’s reign. Contreras has also written for publications as varied as New York Times Magazine, Architectural Digest, and Buzzfeed.
Contreras came to the U.S. as a refugee in 2002 and became a citizen last year.
- On writing about her life: “My first attempt was to tell the truth, and I got stuck… But some stories always haunt you… There’s something about fiction—it can be a veil you wear or put over an experience. It allows you to come closer to the truth.”
- Use of language in the book: “I wanted you to feel that something had been lost in translation.”
- Straddling divides: “In Colombia it’s considered a novel in exile, in America it’s considered an immigrant’s story.”
- On her rotation of writing outfits and writing day habits: “I do it because when I sit down to write, my brain tells me to get out. But if I force myself into a habit, then I’m less resistant. My body knows it’s a writing day, so my brain tolerates it.”
- Inspiration: “After you have tequila with Sandra Cisneros you go home and you can write the novel.”
Fruit of the Drunken Tree came out in paperback in 2019. Contreras is now working on a family memoir.