In Peru, These Luchadores Are Battling For A Book Contract
Lucha Libro is a literary version of the popular Mexican wrestling event. In this case, the luchadores are aspiring writers who have five minutes to come up with a short story in front of a live audience.
The Peruvian capital of Lima is now home to a new kind of arena battle: Lucha Libro is similar to the popular Mexican Lucha Libre in that the luchadores wear masks to conceal their identities. However, instead of wrestling each other, they wrestle with words as they struggle to write a short story in five minutes in front of a live audience. Their efforts — mistakes and all — are projected on large screens in real time. At the end, the winner is chosen by a panel of judges, and put one step closer towards the grand prize: a publishing contract. Aspiring writer and former contestant Vanessa Vásquez says the event is a great way to see what others are doing: “You start to realize that you’re living in a place where you’re surrounded by talented people.”
What’s the Big Idea?
Politically and economically, Peru is more stable now than it has been in years. However, investment in culture has taken a hit, and book critic and past Lucha Libro judge Jaime Cabrera says that neither the government nor the public is prioritizing literature. As proof he points to a 2009 study of reading comprehension among schoolchildren that placed the country in 62nd place out of 65. “Before [if people had money] they’d splurge on a book. Now, they splurge on clothes, or electronics,” he says.