Cities in Literature: from Iowa City to Santiago

Rebecca Carey
May 15, 2019

If you’re reading this, then you’re someone who likes to travel. How do I know? Well, I’m the same way. I’m Rebecca Carey, a 21 year-old college senior living in Iowa City, Iowa. When I was 18, I moved to the Midwest for college. I’m originally from south Texas, where expansive fields of cattle and public schools closing down for the annual fair and rodeo is the norm. In high school, I studied abroad in the UK and Ireland, and before starting college I traveled to Thailand after high school graduation. I was homeschooled throughout high school (and even before that), and I worked full-time for a few years to save up for the travel. The flexibility of homeschooling and the opportunities it gave me to work while I was a young teenager were invaluable contributions to my desire to travel. 

Then, I traded the rural south for the Midwest to go to the nation’s top writing school. Iowa City is a UNESCO world heritage city of literature, and the university boasts faculty like Kurt Vonnegut and alumni like Flannery O’Connor and Joe Russo (the director of the Avengers movies). With the prestigious graduate Writer’s Workshop, the Nonfiction Writing Program, the International Writing Program, and more, the University of Iowa heavily contributes to the literary culture of the city. The downtown bookstore Prairie Lights has regularly hosted poets like Andrea Gibson. The local theater, the Englert, has featured Percy Jackson author Rick Riordan and "The Underground Railroad" author Colson Whitehead. Outside of the hospital and nursing program, the University of Iowa is known for attracting, creating, and cultivating writers. We spawn in the massive corn fields, and whoever finds their way out gets a diploma and a handful of influential writer, professor, and editor contacts. Any writing they produce is up to them. 

I’ve been in love with literature my entire life, starting with C.S. Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia and Ron L. Hubbard’s tome Battlefield Earth. My love story with literature continues with my study abroad to Santiago. Chile’s culture teems with beautiful poetry from renowned writers such as Pablo Neruda and Gabriela Mistral. Science fiction works with traditional magic realism in Roberto Bolaño’s Nocturno de Chile, or By Night in Chile (English edition), and The Spirit of Science Fiction (English edition).  Feminist writers like Lina Meruane and her novel Sangre en el Ojo stand out and are notably recognized in the published world. This summer I’ll be learning about the literary culture in Chile, both through personal research and through my internship. I’ll be bringing you reviews of Santiago’s best bookstores and literary hotspots, a look into Pablo Neruda’s Santiago home, and even a biopic of Easter Island. Stay tuned for more, expats and global citizens; there’s more to come.  


Rebecca Carey

<p>Rebecca Carey has been an avid literature and science fiction fan since reading her father’s copy of Ron Hubbard’s “Battlefield Earth” as a child. She has been writing professionally for two years and has published prose, poetry, and short fiction in the University of Iowa’s undergraduate literary reviews ‘InkLit,’ ‘Witness,’ and ‘Peripheral’ in 2018 and 2019, and has published poetry translations in the University of Iowa’s undergraduate translation Journal ‘Boundless’ in 2019. She is a Creative Writing and Translation student at the Univerisity of Iowa hoping to pursue a Master’s degree in translation studies after graduation. When she isn’t buried in a book, she’s usually somewhere in between the realm of overthinking, daydreaming, and wishing she was born 500 years in the future so she could have lived on Mars. Favorite novels of hers include Trenton Lee Stwart’s “The Mysterious Benedict Society,” Jeff Vandermeer’s “Annihilation,” and William Burrough’s “Naked Lunch.” Some of her favorite Chilean authors are Lina Meruane, Roberto Balaño, and Pablo Neruda.</p>

2019 Summer 1, 2019 Summer 2
Home University:
University of Iowa
Bellville, TX
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