Translated from the Spanish by MICHAEL BAZZETT
Humberto Ak’abal (1952-2019) is widely known in Guatemala. His book Guardián de la caída de agua received the Golden Quetzal award in 1993, and in 2004 he declined to receive the Guatemalan National Prize in Literature because it was named for Miguel Angel Asturias, whom Ak’abal accused of encouraging racism, noting that his views on eugenics and assimilation “offend the indigenous population of Guatemala, of which I am part.”
What does it mean then to meet Ak’abal in English? What does it mean to translate an indigenous writer who spurned institutional accolades from one dominant, oppressive language into another colonial tongue?