THE AUTHOR of eight volumes of poetry, five novels, a book of film criticism, a translation of Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz’ love poetry, and an acclaimed memoir about his friendships with Reinaldo Arenas and Manuel Puig, Jaime Manrique has received praise from the likes of John Ashbery, Susan Sontag, Junot Diaz, and Pauline Kael. He has been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, the International Latino Book Award, and the Publishing Triangle’s Bill Whitehead Award for Lifetime Achievement.
As a bilingual Colombian-American immigrant who arrived in Florida in 1966, Manrique’s life as a writer and a gay man during a time of enormous social change has given him a unique and instructive view of the American writing life—American as in all of the Americas. His most recent novel, Like This Afternoon Forever, is a book about big ideas like social justice, spirituality, gay love, and the dire state of our world as corruption and violence grow ever more endemic.
After meeting Manrique in New York City during my fall book tour, I interviewed him by e-mail from Mexico City in February.
Trebor Healey: You immigrated to the U.S. at sixteen. Can you tell us about your experience as both a Colombian immigrant and a gay one?
Trebor Healey’s latest book of short stories is titled Falling (Wisconsin, 2019). He divides his time between Mexico City, L.A., and other locales.