Ilan Stavans has been described by the ""Washington Post"" as 'Latin America's liveliest and boldest critic and most innovative cultural enthusiast'. ""The New York Times"" has called him 'one of the most influential figures in Latino literature in the United States'. This collection of essays, part of the University of Michigan Press' acclaimed ""Writers on Writing"" series, helps to explain why. Here Stavans focuses on his Jewish heritage and Hispanic upbringing and the relationship between the two cultures from both his own personal experience and that of others. Despite being hailed as a voice for Latino culture, he has also been criticized for writing about that culture while being Jewish and Caucasian, with the result that he is both an insider and an outsider, an observer and a participant, providing a unique point of view. ""A Critic's Journey"" includes a lecture on the much-discussed topic of 'Who Owns the English Language?' as well as essays on everything from the translation of ""Don Quixote"" to the durability of ""One Hundred Years of Solitude"". He reflects on Hispanic anti-Semitism and the Holocaust in Latin America, his own experiences writing the memoir ""On Borrowed Words"" and the screen adaptation of the novella ""My Mexican Shiva"", and writers ranging from Roberto Bolano to W. G. Sebald. Truly, as the ""Philadelphia Inquirer"" has said, Stavans is 'an intellectual force to reckon with'.
Ilan Stavans (born Ilan Stavchansky Slomianski in Mexico City) has written extensively on American, Hispanic, and Jewish culture. He was the host of the syndicated public television show Conversations with Ilan Stavans from 2001 to 2006, and has been the author of everything from scholarly monographs to comic strips. He has won the Latino Literature Prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship, Chile's Presidential Medal, and the Ruben Dario Distinction. Stavans is Lewis-Sebring Professor in Latin American and Latino Culture at Amherst College.