Good times for the paranormal | Culture


Literature is populating with monsters. It is no longer just that the nightmare stalks the reader from the bastion of the genre, but that the so-called serious literature is turning towards the sinister. Perhaps in an attempt to reflect the uncertainty of the moment or the agorero and increasingly inexplicable present, or perhaps, simply, in an inevitable narrative expansion of creators who grew free from prejudice. Since Rescue distance from Samantha Schweblin, still in full conquest of the world, until the last Herralde Prize, the romantic gothic Our part at night, by Mariana Enriquez, going through the stories between the social and the sentimental macabre of Anna Starobinets or Carmen Maria Machado, the Venezuelan vampirism of Michelle Roche Rodríguez, or the reality distorted by the strangeness of Cristina Sánchez-Andrade and the last of Elvira Navarro, much of what is published is impregnated with a dark side that suggests that these are good times for the paranormal.

“The limits are very diffuse today,” says Mariana Enriquez (Buenos Aires, 46 years old). “Trying to define what a writer does is increasingly difficult. We are influenced by many things besides what we read. We have cinema, music, art, experience. Issues that exceed literature and influence us as much as other books. It is difficult to confine a genre in such a world, ”adds the writer, who sees in that expanding hybrid a“ combination of two traditions, ”the steinbeckian, or social, of Stephen King, and the mythological of, above all, Angela Carter , so it has this reformulation of the traditional. “I think of Carmen Maria Machado taking up fairy tales and appealing clearly in doing so to what Angela Carter did at the time, and I also think of Shirley Jackson when I read Paul Tremblay, who explores issues of urban paranoia. Stylistically, terror has long owed nothing to Stoker, but sexuality and the body are still a central component, ”he says.

For Michelle Roche Rodríguez (Caracas, 41 years old), who has rescued the figure of the vampire, in reality, the vampire, and has taken her to the Caracas of the 20s of the last century in Bad blood, three things explain the rise of the sinister in Spanish fiction. “First we have the intense revision to which the canon has been subject since the end of the 20th century, which has allowed the inclusion of various social or gender references, as well as the multiculturality of literature. Related to this phenomenon, there is a more recent one: the globalization of cultural supply and consumption. Whether we like it or not, the Internet and the development of electronic media have made available multiple discourses that can be consumed on many media and in a short time. And all of the above adds up to the third phenomenon, which is typical of the Spanish narrative: the exhaustion of the traditional realistic record, ”he says. And of course, the lack of prejudices towards the genre of writers like her, who have grown up “reading stories and genre novels.”

Bad blood It began with a scene where a girl revealed herself against her parents in such a violent way that she became a monster. I knew vampires well, because I spent childhood and adolescence reading their stories, so it was a matter of time before Diana took the form of a bloodsucker, ”he confesses. And he still points out something else regarding what he calls the Latin American Gothic. “Latin American Gothic flourishes in that sleaze where magical realism and police narrative of recent decades are no longer sufficient. If the condition of the fantastic story is fear as the engine of the argument, fear is what is left over in the region. Why in Bad blood Vampires are not so scary as the military. Due to globalization, Anglo-Saxon Gothic referents are as strong in our imaginary as the classic writers of the grotesque, such as the Argentinean Leopoldo Lugones, the Uruguayan Horacio Quiroga or the Venezuelan José Rafael Pocaterra. ”

In that sense, Enriquez points out that among the things that attract the attention of this 21st century is that “gender is beginning to appear in other languages”. “It began to be much more evident from 2000. Suddenly there were horror writers in Argentina, in Chile, in Mexico, in Spain, in Brazil. And in English the phenomenon of new weird, which has to do with the digital issue, internet and even the fake news, the very connected but very uncertain world in which we live, that of distorted reality, ”he adds. Hugo Camacho, editor at the head of Orciny Press, a label that drives the hard core of the genus in hybridization, authors such as Carlton Mellick III or Laura Lee Bahr, believes that “the terror has never left, what happens is that now perhaps it has gentrified a bit because there are people putting more money, but the same as with superheroes or fantasy. Terror will always be there because it arises from the need to shape our own anxieties only that when dealing with issues that concern us right now it gives the feeling that this popularity is more current. ”

The Argentine writer Mariana Enriquez, in Barcelona in November 2019.


The Argentine writer Mariana Enriquez, in Barcelona in November 2019. EFE

Cristina Sánchez-Andrade (Santiago de Compostela, 52 years old) does not believe that the tales of The boy who ate wool (Anagram), can be described as horror stories, although he admits that the beautiful stories do not interest him, that to “create an emotion” in the reader, he considers it effective to create “something that disturbs them”, and if something “disturbs us, it is because deep down, it’s in us. ” Elvira Navarro (Huelva, 41 years old) also does not believe that what The island of rabbits (Random House Literature) differs so much from the rest of his fiction. “In my case the sinister has always been there, even in The worker, only that it appeared as a psychological element. The difference with the stories of now is that the sinister materializes in an external element. Bringing it out, towards fantastic elements, is a way to continue exploring that territory, to continue expanding it ”. Vicky Hidalgo, editor of Minotauro, points to the hoarder greater female presence in a genre “which has always been eminently male” and predicts the recovery of the wicked figure of the witch.

The monster is no longer Anglo-Saxon

As Mariana Enriquez mentioned, if something owes the 21st century, terror is the definitive change of language of the classic monster. The genre, now barely pure, present in a growing number of works, is being invaded by cultures that are not Anglo-Saxon because its creators and creators have lost their fear of taking it to their own land. Adela Vicky Hidalgo, editor of Minotauro, says that many authors “are looking back at their home cultures in search of inspiration for their stories,” and mentions Silvia Moreno-García, “author of Mexican origin who takes advantage of the Mayan culture ”, Or Zoraida Córdova,” a young writer of Ecuadorian origin who recovers Mexican folklore in her trilogy Brooklyn Bruges”, Whose first delivery will arrive in Spain in October. Insists on the recovery of the figure of the witch. “It is a trend of the most consistent: we have seen for some time that the fantastic is occupying the mainstream field with series like Stranger Things or phenomena like Game of Thrones; If we add to this the more than necessary claim and interest in feminism, I believe that the archetype of the witch is the next logical step and that it will be a new trend that will come very strong and in completely new ways. ”

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