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Stories That Free Us: In-Conversation with Ariel Dorfman

October 14, 2023 @ 12:30 pm - 2:00 pm EDT

This hybrid program welcomes masterful author Ariel Dorfman, who will be joining virtually, as he discusses his most recent novel, The Suicide Museum. Timed to the 50th Anniversary of Chilean President Allende’s death, it is part mystery, part historical epic, part biography, part human comedy, and part prophecy. This discussion is moderated by City of Asylum Advisory Board member Anderson Tepper and will be followed by an audience Q&A and book signing. 

Told through genre-blending auto-fiction, The Suicide Museum uses Ariel’s own life as a framework with an emphasis on the experiences of exile, loss of country, switching of languages, struggle against dictatorship, and the influence and presence of his wife Angélica in his life. Ever since Chilean President Allende died in La Moneda on September 11th, 1973, Ariel has been haunted by his death: was it suicide as the dictatorship claimed or was he murdered as many Chileans believed? So comes an iconoclastic novel centered on a billionaire Holocaust survivor that hires a writer to uncover the truth of Salvador Allende’s death. They must confront their own dark histories to find a path forward—for themselves and for our ravaged planet. True to Ariel’s obsessions, The Suicide Museum raises questions about how to tell stories that free us and yet also question our assumptions, stories that are both popular and ambiguous, that are mythical and also about immediate human beings.

You can purchase your own copy of Ariel’s book, The Suicide Museum, at City of Asylum Bookstore.

About the Author:

Ariel Dorfman is a Chilean-American author, born in Argentina, whose award-winning books in many genres have been published in more than fifty languages and his plays performed in more than one hundred countries. Among his works are the plays Death and the Maiden and Purgatorio, the novels Widows and Konfidenz, and the memoirs Heading South, Looking North and Feeding on Dreams. He writes regularly for the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, New York Review of Books, The Nation, The Guardian, El País, and CNN. His stories have appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Harper’s, The Threepenny Review, and Index on Censorship, among others. A prominent human rights activist, he worked as press and cultural advisor to Salvador Allende’s chief of staff in the final months before the 1973 military coup, and later spent many years in exile. He lives with his wife Angélica in Santiago, Chile, and Durham, North Carolina, where he is the Walter Hines Page Emeritus Professor of Literature at Duke University.

About the Moderator:

Anderson Tepper is co-chair of the international committee of the Brooklyn Book Festival and a guest curator of the 2023 PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature. Formerly of Vanity Fair, he writes on books and authors for a variety of publications, including The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, and World Literature Today. Anderson Tepper serves on the City of Asylum Advisory Board.

About Your Visit: 

The in-house restaurant 40 North will be closed.

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October 14, 2023
12:30 pm - 2:00 pm EDT
Program Category:


Alphabet City
40 W. North Avenue
Pittsburgh,PA15212United States
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