September 25, 2020

“Creating something on a blank page has become addiction.”

The Mexican writer Guillermo Arriaga is, among other things, a faithful practitioner of the ritual of hunting, filmmaker, assiduous listener to the music of guitarist Jimi Hendrix, but also “addicted to writing”, an exercise he practices as well as reading. , and that has never left.

“Creating something new where there was not before, such as a blank page becomes an addiction,” Arriaga said in an interview with Efe.

“It is a desire to tell stories and not stop,” added the writer, who these days is promoting his latest novel in his country, “Saving Fire,” which in January reported the Alfaguara 2020 Prize.

And it was precisely this irrepressible passion for writing that made him start working on another novel, he advanced about 70 pages, but he suspended it to devote all his attention and concentration to the promotion of his new book.

“I was already running, but I stopped and said: no, calm down, I need to give your space to ‘Save the fire’ and the Alfaguara Prize,” revealed the writer, who assured that winning the prize has “greatly honored him” and for this reason feel responsible for supporting the book and the award.

Precisely in his most recent 664-page novel, with “Shakespearean” overtones and fast-paced rhythm, Arriaga recounts a love story in contemporary Mexico: that of Marina, a choreographer of affluent class married and with three children, with José Cuauhtémoc, a murderer sentenced to 50 years in prison.

And through this improbable relationship, Arriaga portrays the paradoxes of his country and the fiercest contradictions of love and hope, a story told from different points of view and in various narrative times.

About his literary work, Arriaga says that the only thing he has to do when writing “is to put my best effort, effort, concentration, rigor and discipline”.

With those tools, he makes sure that “the work goes as well as possible.”

He says that it is in his hands to “work hard” and it is not in my hands, necessarily, “that someone will like it, but if I want him (the reader) to know that there is very serious work behind each of my books”.


The appearance and promotion of Arriaga’s new book occurred in the midst of the worldwide spread of COVID-19, a scenario that he considers an “opportunity that forces us to rethink various things”, including the time that millions of people now have in many countries due to confinement , when you stay home, which have been requested by governments and health authorities.

“Literature is an opportunity to reflect and a book is one of the best ways to maintain a dialogue with yourself,” he explained.

He said that a good book works as “a kind of mirror that sheds light where the gaze did not want to settle before or could not, also helps us to see issues inside and outside of us that we did not know

For Arriaga, the current “is an unprecedented moment for this generation”, which will allow us to reflect on “whether we are really on the path we want or should give a rudder.”

For the author of the films “Amores perros”, “21 grams” or “Babel”, this moment “can provoke personal, social or political reflection, but it is a moment where we must reflect and books are fundamental to this process”.

Regarding its different facets, at the end of the talk, Arriaga decided on that of a hunter and claimed to be “a hunter who writes because before I was a writer I was a hunter. Hunting is the crystal that has allowed me to understand the world, It is a deep, complex, painful and at the same time exciting ritual. ”

Juan Manuel Ramírez G.


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