January 26, 2021

Daniel Saldaña: ​​"I do not think you can make a list of the best writers, this is not a horse race" | Culture

Daniel Saldaña: ​​"I do not think you can make a list of the best writers, this is not a horse race" | Culture



He says Daniel Saldaña (Mexico City, 1984) that shares few obsessions with the protagonist of his second novel, The main nerve (Sixth floor), a guy who, prostrate in his bed, apathetic and depressed, throws his eyes 23 years ago to the hunt for memories that, "trusting in the redeeming virtues of writing," explain why it ended like this. But Daniel Saldaña spent three years writing from bed, like his antihero, pushed by circumstances, in a "tiny department of Montreal" where, "in a cruel winter", he brought forth this novel that has made him one of the most popular writers. outstanding of his generation in Spanish, belonging to the Bogotá 39 list included -A selection of the 39 best Latin American authors under 40 years performed by the Hay Festival-.

"I have an ambiguous relationship with these recognitions. On the one hand I'm glad to be with writers that I admire and read for a long time. On the other hand, from the disbelief, I think it is a strategy as there are others in the publishing world. I do not think you can make a list of the best writers, this is not a horse race, "he confesses to EL PAÍS on a sunny October afternoon.

The main nerve is the story of a man who has left everything to be confined in a bed that belonged to his parents, in a small apartment in Mexico City from which he remembers his childhood as a pariah in school and a lonely child, an existence broken in 1994 when his mother marches south to join the Zapatistas. The book is an exploration of loneliness and, above all, an investigation of the value of memories as an inaccurate and autonomous construction of truth. "The idea was to think of memory as the first degree of fiction, almost like its birth. I have a terrible memory and a tendency to exaggerate important that I have contrasted with all members of my family who always remember stories much more sifted than mine. The character tells the story and there is a certain faith in what is said but it oscillates between believing it and not. There is an eagerness to fix that memory and stop distorting, "he reflects.

The work is crossed by generational references (the books of Choose your own adventure, the myth of the stickers with drugs) and allusions to the political events that marked the history of Mexico in the nineties in that tradition of novels that narrate great moments through the sight of a child. "We had the feeling that something was happening and we did not have the tools to decipher it," says Saldaña, as if the book had filled that gap.

Very marked by the poetry with which he began writing and which remains an essential part of the life of a compulsive, omnivorous and disordered reader, Saldaña's language is sober, contained, a sort of neutral Spanish whose origin is difficult to understand. tracing and sinking in conversations with his grandfather – Spanish emigrated to Mexico – the teachings of his mother – educated in Switzerland and with a Spanish trapped in time – and the readings of the translations that came from Spain.

Writer who is defined as very insecure, Saldaña has taken a turn to the prose that marked Amid strange victims, his first novel, also starred by an apathetic middle-aged and middle class man, but much more runaway and with a humor that now disappears. "I was tired of irony as a way to approach the world. I was looking for another tone, although it sounds corny. I needed something different, less scattered, more specific, "he says. From the adventures of a child confined in his world of imagination and with the broken soul to the desperate attempt of a man who has not reached 30 to find a meaning to everything, The main nerve It has something of a bleak book. "Yes it's correct. The character had his best moment with 10 years. Tremendous. Now he trusts the redeeming virtues of writing and we do not know if that happens or not. It's sad, "he acknowledges.

When they look in the mirror, Saldaña's characters see another. What does the author see? "I do not know, it's weird. I have a certain obsession with the symmetry seen in this novel. I've always been seen as someone crooked, deformed, cubist profile, "he laughs, but seriously at the same time. The search for "a cultivable garden" is another of his obsessions. Saldaña finds him in corners like Garden of Prince Anglona, in Madrid, where he lived while studying Philosophy and Literature and, above all, in reading and translation, to which he gives himself without boldness and which does not produce the anguish of writing.

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