How Amnesia helped Ingrid Rojas Contreras tell her family’s stories


This is Thresholds, a series of conversations with writers about experiences that completely upended them, confused them in their lives, changed them, and changed how and why they wanted to write. Moderated by Jordan Kisner, author of the collection of essays Thin placesand presented by Lit Hub Radio.


In this episode, Jordan talks with Ingrid Rojas Contreras (The man who could move the clouds) about the accident that left her amnesiac, struggling with the decision to write about her family and the importance of offering healing.

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A black dress Vera Wang • Curanderos • Topographic disorientation

From the episode:

Ingrid Rojas Contreras: I had wanted to write the story before the amnesia and convinced myself not to write it multiple times because I just didn’t know how to. I didn’t know how to say it. Every time I started writing it, I felt judged. I had internalized this perceived judgment of a white gaze, and it prevented me from telling the story. I really felt that maybe one day I would get down to writing it, but I just couldn’t figure out how to do it justice.

But after the amnesia, I was so sure and so clear why I wanted to do it. I felt that the reason it’s so important is that we’ve been silenced all our lives. The fact that I couldn’t tell my friends or the people who love me that this was my past. And once I remembered everything, I thought to myself, these stories are amazing and wonderful, who would ever be ashamed of these stories? I don’t understand. I just don’t understand. Amnesia gave me such a sense of wonder and awe, and a love for these stories that I was then able to write from that vantage point. It was the missing element that I didn’t have before.


For more thresholds visit us at Original music by Lora-Faye Åshuvud and art by Kirstin Huber.

Ingrid Rojas Contreras was born and raised in Bogotá, Colombia. His latest book, The man who could move the clouds, was shortlisted for the National Book Award in Non-Fiction. Her first novel drunk tree fruit was the silver medal winner in First Fiction from the California Book Awards, and a New York Times Editors Choice. His essays and short stories have appeared in the New York Times Review, The believerand Zyzzyva, among others. She lives in California.


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