“He was like a man who had served a term in prison or had been to Harvard College or had lived for a longtime with foreigners in South America.” — Carson McCullers, describing Jake Blount in The Heart is a Lonely Hunter.
I was born in Chicago, graduated from Harvard College and then traveled to Venezuela to work as a community developer in the hillside barrios of Caracas, where I learned a new language and much else (see Building a Stairway). Later I taught in Puerto Rico, earned a PhD in sociology from Northwestern University, and continued research, writing and travel in many parts of Latin America. However, I have so far never served a term in prison.
After a couple of marriages and divorces and teaching at various universities, in 1978 I quit academia and the Midwest to reunite with Susana Torre, Argentina-born architect and feminist I had met in Havana and who was then living in New York City. There I struggled to make a living as a writer, supplementing the meager income from articles in The Nation, the Village Voice, In These Times and other lefty periodicals by part-time teaching, translation and other jobs. And began seriously writing fiction.
I wrote several books (two for HarperCollins, one published by University of Arizona Press, and some for smaller presses), lots of articles — even a couple in big-name publications like The New York Times — and many short stories. For a couple of years, I was co-editor of a monthly publication on Latinos in the U.S., Hispanic Monitor. But mostly I wanted to understand the world through fiction, which for me meant imagining myself into the lives of people like those I’d studied as a sociologist.
Since 2006, Susana and I have been living in Carboneras, a small fishing village on the southeast coast of Spain, where she designed and we built our seaside home. My current projects include more works of fiction and, with Susana, a history of architecture and urbanism in Latin America.
For most of my life my friends have known me as “Geoff,” but to avoid that silent and confusing “o” I now generally sign with my initials, Gef (for “Geoffrey Edmund Fox”) — simpler, and the same pronunciation.