Spanish author shares about growing up as an immigrant

Author Concha Alborg speaks to the College about her newest novel on Oct. 26. (Tom O'Dell / Photo Editor)

By Amy Reynolds
Correspondent

For most authors, the best writing comes from the heart, which is exactly the case when it comes to Spanish author, Concha Alborg.

“This book is not my memoir. It is a fictional work. I write about what is familiar to me,” Alborg said, introducing her most recent piece of fiction.

On Oct. 26, Alborg spoke about her novel “America in Translation: A Novel in Three Novellas,” to Spanish classes, Sigma Delta Pi, the Spanish Honor Society and the Spanish Club.

“‘America in Translation’ is a coming-of-age story of sorts,” Alborg said.  The protagonist, Inma, is in the process of becoming an adult and finds herself torn between her parents’ immigrant life and her life as an American woman.

Alborg, who was born in Spain during the difficult years after the Spanish Civil War, moved to the U.S. with her parents under the auspices of the Fulbright Program in 1961.

Growing up an avid reader, Alborg always dreamed of becoming a writer. She eventually earned her Ph.D. in Spanish literature, taught at Saint Joseph’s for 27 years and wrote numerous articles, novels and reviews.

To give the audience a brief idea of what “America in Translation” is about, Alborg read excerpts from each novella.

The first, “The Marine Corps Wife,” describes the year Inma’s husband was fighting in Vietnam while she was at home with their newborn daughter.

“The Spanish Daughter,” the second novella, takes place immediately after the death of Inma’s mother and focuses on the extreme contrast between contemporary Spain and American culture in the 1970s.

The third and final novella, “An American Woman,” is told through various journals and tells the story of how she has transitioned into American life.

The novel, which is told in three different voices, is entirely in English, but it was not originally written that way; Alborg initially planned on writing the novel partially in Spanish and partially in English.

“I wanted to mirror how immigrants live,” she said, explaining that immigrants speak both their first language and English.

Alborg had a difficult time getting the novel published when it was in two different languages however, which is why the book was published entirely in English.

While the novel is entirely fictional, each of the novellas, which can be read separately or as a whole, loosely reflects Alborg’s own life and her own transition into American culture.

“I wanted the reader to fill in the holes,” Albord said, which is why each novella focuses on a pivotal moment in the protagonist’s life, rather than summarizing her entire life in one novel.

Today, Alborg feels as though she has successfully transitioned into American culture, but she still feels connected to her Spanish heritage as well.

“The only time I’m happy is when I’m on a plane going to Spain or coming home,” Alborg said she jokes with her family.

“For me writing is sort of like an experiment,” she continued.  “‘America in Translation’ focuses on finding yourself in a new culture.”