Thursday, February 20, 2020

Katya de Becerra

Katya de Becerra is the author of genre-bending YA fiction, What The Woods Keep and Oasis. She was born in Russia, studied in California and now lives in Melbourne. She earned a PhD in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Melbourne and now works as a social scientist. She’s also a co-founder and co-host of #SpecLitChat and a writing mentor with the #1st5Pages Workshop.

Recently I asked de Becerra about what she was reading. Her reply:
Every year I set a new reading goal, which has more to do with quality and diversity of my reading rather than quantity. For example, 2019 was my year of “reading widely”, meaning reading more books outside my go-to genres (YA thriller and contemporary fantasy). Specifically, I wanted to focus on reading books in formats I rarely pick up, such as graphic novels. I can’t recall exactly how I came across Vera Brosgol’s work but I’m so glad I did because two of her graphic novels (Anya’s Ghost and Be Prepared) are easily in my top five favorite reads from last year.

Brosgol is Moscow-born, US-based award-winning cartoonist (she has storyboarded for Coraline among other films), and once I knew she was originally from Russia (like me) and that her graphic novel work dealt with the experiences of immigration I expected to love it and I did.

In Anya’s Ghost, the novel’s eponymous protagonist is an unpopular, somewhat jaded girl who has the misfortune of falling into an abandoned well, where she… meets a ghost, and things only get weirder and darker from there on, but it is the authentic details of Russian-in-the-US immigrant experience that makes the characters leap off the page. Compared to Anya’s Ghost, Be Prepared is more autobiographical as it draws inspiration from the author’s childhood memories of summers spent in Russian heritage camp while growing up in the US. The result is a fascinating, completely immersive read that I devoured over the course of one lazy afternoon. Brosgol’s drawing style is edgy and darkly magical but also realistic, and the way she portrays characters’ emotional nuances is superb. I can’t wait to read her other works and will be eagerly awaiting whatever she’s going to create next.
Visit Katya de Becerra's blog and follow @KatyaDeBecerra on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

--Marshal Zeringue