In this Conversations episode, This Anthro Life hosts Adam Gamwell and Ryan Collins are joined by author Andrew Rowen to discuss his new novel, Encounters Unforeseen: 1492 Retold. Coming in the months trailing the 525th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s (or Cristobal Colon’s) voyage to the America’s, Rowen’s novel seeks to add some much needed depth to the modern myths on the subject. Encounters Unforeseen doesn’t start at the (in)famous voyage, or even in Europe. Instead, The drama alternates among three Taíno chieftains—Caonabó, Guacanagarí, and Guarionex—and Bakoko, a Taíno youth seized by Columbus, Spain’s Queen Isabella I of Castile, King Ferdinand II of Aragon and Columbus.
Some text from the Press Release: After 525 years, the traditional literature recounting the history of Columbus’s epic voyage and first encounters with Native Americans remains Eurocentric, focused principally—whether pro- or anti-Columbus—on Columbus and the European perspective. A historical novel, Encounters Unforeseen: 1492 Retold now dramatizes these events from a bicultural perspective, fictionalizing the beliefs, thoughts, and actions of the Native Americans who met Columbus side by side with those of Columbus and other Europeans, all based on a close reading of Columbus’s Journal, other primary sources, and anthropological studies.
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Andrew Rowen has devoted ten years to researching the history leading to the first encounters between Europeans and the Caribbean’s Taíno peoples, including visiting sites where Columbus and Taíno chieftains lived, met, and fought. He is a graduate of U.C. Berkeley and Harvard Law School and has long been interested in the roots of religious intolerance.