ALTA Fellow: Tara FitzGerald

Tara FitzGerald is pursuing an MFA in Creative Nonfiction and Literary Translation at Columbia University, and is also the 2011-2012 Nonfiction Editor of Columbia: A Journal of Literature and Art. She is currently at work on a translation of Argentine writer Ernesto Semán’s third novel Soy un bravo piloto de la nueva China for publication in English. Taking as its backdrop Argentina’s Dirty War of the 1970s and 80s, the novel explores themes of love and family, loss and forgiveness, interweaving three stories, times and places: the present-day La Ciudad, the Dirty War-era El Campo, and the most mysterious, disturbing and otherworldly of them all, La Isla.

Volunteer work in Nicaragua and Costa Rica in 2003, followed by a six-month backpacking trip around Latin America, sparked a love affair with the Spanish language for Tara. Mexico was the last stop on her tour, and six weeks turned into six years. Before moving to New York in 2010, she lived and worked in Mexico City as freelance travel, lifestyle and culture writer for international publications including Monocle, *Wallpaper and Esquire Latin America. She also reported regularly from Mexico for Radio New Zealand. Tara has twice interviewed the cult Mexican detective writer Paco Ignacio Taibo II, and has a particular penchant for reading and translating Mexican detective fiction.

Previous to her Mexican sojourn, Tara was a correspondent for Reuters international news agency in London, Frankfurt, Bonn, parts of the Arabian Gulf and the former Soviet Union, reporting on everything from politics and finance to soccer and social issues.

Travel featured early and often in her life, and although her family is originally from Ireland, she was born in England, spent much of her childhood in South Africa, and some of her teenage years in Holland. She completed her schooling in the UK, and holds a BA in English Language and Literature from Oxford University. The first foreign language she learned was Afrikaans at age six, and the first one she spoke fluently was French after spending an exchange year in Paris as a student. In addition to the French acquired back then, Tara now speaks fluent Spanish, and can muddle her way through in German, Russian and Portuguese. Photography is a passion, as well as sampling street foods the world over, discovering genuine community and eco-tourism projects, Latin American cinema, nearly all literature, and scuba diving. She has also been known to run marathons on occasion.

Alongside her translation project, Tara is also working on a nonfiction book based around the dying Aral Sea in former Soviet Central Asia. The sea straddles the border between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, and she recently returned from two months traveling around the region, where she was at work collecting the stories of people whose lives have been affected by what some have called the world’s worst man-made environmental disaster. She does not yet speak Kazakh or Uzbek, but she’s working on it.

For more information, see Tara’s website and blog at:

About Erica Mena

Erica Mena is a Puerto Rican poet, translator, and book artist. Pronouns: they/them.
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One Response to ALTA Fellow: Tara FitzGerald

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