Criticism & Features


NBCC Nonfiction Finalists in Conversation with New School MFA Students 2015


Thanks to the cooperation of the National Book Critics Circle and The School of Writing at The New School, as well as the tireless efforts of their students and faculty, we are able to provide interviews with each of the NBCC Awards Finalists for the publishing year 2014.

Nonfiction Finalist Hector Tobar In Conversation With Demetri Raftopoulos

Demetri Raftopoulos: Since the events in Deep Down Dark have already happened, readers are aware that thirty-three Chilean miners are trapped. In chapter one, there are several clues leading up to the mine collapsing, specifically the “finger-wide-crack” discovered on the ramp at level 540. How were you able to remain patient and not lead off with the action of the mine collapsing?

Hector Tobar: Well, among other things, I had the wonderful example of “In Cold Blood.” In that first “nonfiction novel,” Truman Capote spends more than fifty pages describing the Kansas town of Holcomb, the lives of a family who lived there, and of the two men who killed them — all before the murders actually take place and the bodies are discovered. It’s a novelist’s trick. You want people to be invested in the story. Part of doing that is making them care about the people whose story you’re telling, and to have them understand the place where the story is unfolding. The first twenty-five pages of my book serve as an introduction to the surreal world of the mine, and to the ordinary, surface lives the men who work there…. more