A road trip to bury a holy poet, another trip following in the footsteps of migrant children, the criminal history of a mine, suffocation after a missing relative, chronicles from the self and characters to the limit. The nonfiction materials go through Mexican publishing news and awaken old questions that jump hard again. How to make literature in the face of devastation? What place do genres occupy? What is fiction good for?
The working method of Valeria Luiselli (Mexico City, 1983) is always the same: a series accumulation of books, songs, paintings and notes in a notebook that enter into conversation, focusing the author's intuitions. His last book, Sound Desert (Sixth Floor) is the archive of a trip through the southern United States, the chronicle of a breakup of a couple, a story about migration and parenting, an epic song and a reflection on how to integrate ethics and aesthetics in the conformation of a circular text that feeds on itself.
During the work process, Luiselli was marking the line between the possible and the desirable. “I was working as a translator in the Migration Court and naturally I began to empty fictionalizations of the real testimonies of violence in the novel. Until I realized that was wrong. I was making an illegible novel and I was not fulfilling my work with ethical integrity. Grabbing the voice of a child or a woman who has suffered extreme violence and calling it fiction is problematic. ”
Then he stopped and changed plans. With the same materials he lit up, The missing child (2016), a first person essay on la dramatic odyssey that unaccompanied minors lived in pre-Trump times. “I lacked a reason for fiction, it seemed an unnecessary device for what I wanted to denounce. I think Lost Children was the best possible response: a transparent literary form, without enormous aesthetic or architectural pretensions, with a fairly linear and direct development. ”
When he finished, he returned to the novel's laboratory. “Just as sometimes fiction is unnecessary, other times it is indispensable. For example, to question the work of fiction itself. Writing the novel led me to an honest and urgent inquiry about how we document the world to produce fiction, how to move ethically in a file that serves to produce fiction, and how to think new genres that document the world. ”
Julian Herbert (Acapulco, 1971) is another master of the hybrid. “I place the genre where I start but then the texts do what they want. It does not worry me. What interests me most is to look for the place of the voice, ”he says about Now I imagine things (Random House), a compilation of chronicles that go from the gonzo, the essayist, the poetic or the canonical report. This time, yes, apart from the autofiction, one of his favorite weapons since the explosive Tomb Song (2011). “In this book I have been very strict. Freedoms have to do with style and with the flexibility of subgenres. ”
The first person, in any case, floods all the texts. In the titled Gnocchi with entrails, the story starts as a flow of consciousness that runs through the tables of a literature festival in Chile. In parallel, Herbert runs into a femicide and begins a second more classic research story but intertwined with the author's vital changes.
“The follow-up of the case took me by surprise, but quickly the connection with which I stopped drinking arises. I still don't know how, but I think there is a relationship between living in a toxic reality and alcohol intoxication. From a non-militant feminist position, something has changed in my view of the feminine through my new abstinence. ” The result is a text full of reflections about the place from which it is written and with a certain jazz rhythm. "The form you choose is not conscious, there is a drive that makes the background and the form feed back."
Even richer are the texts of Veronica Gerber (Mexico City, 1981). If in your first novel, Empty set, used diagrams and drawings to account for absence and precariousness, in The company (Almadía) the diagrams, photos, sketches and maps reappear to dissect the environmental, social and psychological consequences of an old mercury mine in the state of Zacatecas.
In the text, another genre blender: a story by another author intervened by Gerber, a science fiction story, dozens of academic reports and interviews. All timely awakened and presented as a collective memory repository. “First I tried a first-person chronicle, but I felt very uncomfortable being so present in a place where I am not and do not belong. I decided better to act as an editor and that all the voices in her polyphony tell the story that is already full of holes. ”
For Luis Felipe Fabre (Mexico City, 1974), the saturation of reality in the different contemporary artistic formats responds, in part, to a commercial interest. "The documentary has never lived a moment of more boom and in the literature the same thing happens: what sells the most is what is sold as real." In the line of his last book, Dark Songs Statement (Sixth Floor), a recreation between the desire and the delirium of the transfer of the corpse of San Juan de la Cruz, launches a metaphor of the golden age: “Isn't Quixote syndrome happening to us? Aren't we getting soaked with news, instead of cavalry novels, and experiencing that banalization of reality? ”
From the historical facts, diving in biographies, in the poems and explanatory prose of San Juan, Fabre intervenes without losing sight of the fact that "within reality we are already operating with fictions" "In addition – he adds – the hagiographic texts themselves they are ambiguous enough for fiction to enter. ” For example, the chronicles on how the faithful ate the pus from the saint's wounds or took the pinky out of a bite. “It was the time just after the Conquest and the episodes of cannibalism that both scandalized. But it seems that the interpretation of horror depends on the cultural framework. I have tried to make a portrait from a former Spain of a cannibal Spain, ”he points out on one of the many angles – sensory, poetic, theatrical, humorous – of his text.
Humor is another ingredient used by Eduardo Rabasa (Mexico City, 1978) in his first storybook, Destiny is a rabbit that gives you orders (Pumpkin seeds). A selection of characters at the limit anchored in the deformed Mexican archetypes: a paranoid chieftain entrenched in a mousetrap for his corrupt excesses, a rectal solution that provides an invincible political charisma. The political satire of his two previous novels reappears as a powerful tool: “Satire allows you to bring reality to the limit of the absurd and shed a lot of light on what we consider everyday normality. And in a country like Mexico where the absurd is the daily bread, satire is more useful. ”
In his first novel, Brenda Navarro (Mexico City, 1982) enters the bottom of the anguish of his country. Part of the kidnapping of a child to display a plot in double helix and in the first person: a mother who loses her son and the new-mother who stays with the child. "I wanted to problematize what happens with the absences and also with that pain and paranoia that all Mexicans have, that we believe that something bad will always happen to us." With an academic background in the world of sociology, Navarro put aside the essay or the chronicle and chose fiction: “Because it allows you to give free rein to emotions, in addition to speaking and saying what you want without an ideological stance about what is good or bad. ”
The second woman of his Empty houses (Sixth Floor) is a kidnapper. But at the same time, his brother has also disappeared, has an abusive and violent relationship with his partner and all his surroundings. "Science and law do not want to see certain things but in literature you can get out of control and deepen the humanity of victims and perpetrators to better understand the world."
The next generation of Mexican letters, between 20 and 30, is already showing its head for industry and international criticism. The FiL has organized for the second year a selection of young authors. This year's edition highlights Jorge Comensal with his novel Mutations, recently published in Spain and Latin America by Seix Barral; and Aniela Rodriguez with The problem of the three bodies, edited in Spain by Lowercase. This year has also appeared the Anthology of new Mexican poets, compiled by the Peruvian writer and professor of literature at Brown University, Julio Ortega.
. (tagsToTranslate) Mexican literature (t) (t) soil (t) novelty (t) editorial (t) present (t) contest (t) be (t) go through (t) fiction (t) tool (t) count ( t) conflict (t) migration (t) violence (t) colonialism