Wars of the Interior | Granta

  • Published: 04/02/2021
  • ISBN: 9781783786152
  • Granta Books
  • 208 pages

Wars of the Interior

Joseph Zárate

Translated by Annie McDermott

When you fill up your car, install your furniture or choose a wedding ring, do you ever consider the human cost of your consumables?

There is a war raging in the heartlands of Peru, waged on the land by the global industries plundering the Amazon and the Andes. In Saweto, charismatic activist Edwin Chota returns to his ashaninka roots, only to find that his people can’t hunt for food because the animals have fled the rainforest to escape the chainsaw cacophony of illegal logging. Farmer Maxima Acuña is trying to grow potatoes and catch fish on the land she bought from her uncle – but she’s sitting on top of a gold mine, and the miners will do anything to prove she’s occupying her home illegally. The awajun community of the northern Amazon drink water contaminated with oil; child labourer Osman Cuñachí’s becomes internationally famous when a photo of him drenched in petrol as part of the clean-up efforts makes it way around the world.

Joseph Zárate’s stunning work of documentary takes three of Peru’s most precious resources – gold, wood and oil – and exposes the tragedy, violence and corruption tangled up in their extraction. But he also draws us in to the rich, surprising world of Peru’s indigenous communities, of local heroes and singular activists, of ancient customs and passionate young environmentalists. Wars of the Interior is a deep insight into the cultures alive in the vanishing Amazon, and a forceful, shocking exposé of the industries destroying this land.

Masterful storytelling. Peru's environmental conflicts are rooted in different concepts of development and different understandings of people's relationship with the land. Joseph Zárate explores these complexities through the lives of individuals who are forced to face these conflicts with the courage - and the contradictions - of their convictions

Barbara Fraser, Editor, EarthBeat

Harrowing stories, beautifully told. Surely a future classic of non-fiction, a masterclass of reportage. Compelling characters facing impossible challenges whose outcome has wide-reaching consequences for all of us: Zárate brings the Amazon rainforest into your living room

Ben Rawlence

All too often, indigenous peoples endure the devastating consequences of resource extraction and development projects undertaken in their territories. And all too often, the stories of those communities-and of the people defending their traditional lands and ways of life from such projects-go untold. Zárate's captivating account of three resource development conflicts in Peru brings these struggles to life and puts a human face on the brave defenders taking a stand to protect their communities

Lewis Gordon and Nick Hesterberg, Environmental Defender Law Center

The Author

JOSEPH ZÁRATE received the Gabriel García Márquez Award in 2018 and the Ortega y Gasset Prize in 2016. He has served as deputy editor of the magazines Etiqueta Negra and Etiqueta Verde and was awarded a 2018 Ochberg Fellowship by the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma of the School of Journalism at Columbia University in New York. Wars of the Interior was named one of the best books of 2018 by the New York Times in Spanish and by Deutsche Welle.

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The Translator

Annie McDermott is a British translator whose work includes Mario Levrero’s Empty Words and The Luminous Novel, Feebleminded by Ariana Harwicz (co-translation with Carolina Orloff), Loop by Brenda Lozano, Dead Girls by Selva Almada and The Rooftop by Fernanda Trías. Her translations, reviews and essays have appeared in Granta, the White ReviewWorld Literature TodayAsymptote, the Times Literary Supplement and LitHub, among others.

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Joseph Zárate on Granta.com

Essays & Memoir | The Online Edition

An Ounce of Gold and Máxima Acuña Atalaya

Joseph Zárate

‘To end up with an ounce of gold – enough to make a wedding ring – you need to extract fifty tonnes of earth, or the contents of forty removal lorries.’