December 1, 2020

Marta Sanz: “A country without memory is sick, we must not be afraid to remember”

Critics rank Little Red Women as his best work. When you wrote it, did you think so?

A writer wants to believe that. I need to believe that, because that opinion, what supports it, is the idea that over the years, with the writing of each novel, we learn things that help us improve in our craft, because I consider that writing is that, a trade. I want to believe that I am learning, improving and refining in the things I want to say, and, above all, in how I want to say them.

Define the play as a novel to read slowly. In times of immediacy, is it risky to filter the potential audience so much?

I say it a lot, because it seems fundamental to me: if it is a political novel, it is because it talks about mass graves, violence against women, the Law of Democratic Memory; but above all it is because it is poetic. It is something revolutionary, in times of rush, of headlines, of inertia, in which vertigo, speed and spontaneity are so overrated, to propose a different reading pact, to say: wait; stand up, read underneath, enjoy the pleasure of reading, which has nothing to do with skating over words to clearly see the end, but with walking the path and seeing how that path has to do with your own life .

Its protagonist is a woman, a rare sight in the crime novel. Is it hard not to fall into the trap of endowing female characters with roles associated with masculinity to give them strength and complexity?

I am aware, as a woman who writes, that I have been brought up with models, with some literary genres and with reference characters that are part of us. It is difficult to take them off, we writers are looking for new ways of looking and saying, that affects the construction of the characters that we offer in our books. In a conscious way, I have not wanted Paula Quiñones or Luz Arranz, the novel’s narrator, to assume stereotypically male roles. From the small p of the title they are strong, intelligent women, beautiful although lame, beautiful although menopausal, but who are dwarfed in the evidence of love, because we have been educated in that, in a subsidiary role in romantic relationships. little red women are women who have that same experience and rebel against it. Through the character of Tortolica, that girl who wants to be a pedestrian road and singer, and puts her ear to the ground to see if she hears what is underneath, I wanted to talk about the literary character of the crazy woman in the attic, those women who by their sexual curiosity, their creativity, their adherence to certain ideas, are put in the crazy box.

Is it a way of rebelling against the erasure that women have suffered, their role and their suffering in the Civil War and other episodes in history?

What interested me, and hence my concern with language and how language relates to reality and the values ​​that each of us have. For me, the priority was to express how the modes of representation of violence against the body of women, or against the body of the losers, have managed to make this violence natural, to make it seem normal to us. When in a museum we have represented a biblical passage as horrifying as Susana and the old men with soft and soft colors, what we are doing is turning horror into an understatement. When we turn a rape of women into a stimulus to arouse morbid, we are normalizing the horror and even making it desirable. It is important to see where the origin of our desires comes from: from a tremendously macho culture, that is why language, poetry, how the way of saying things is related to reality is so relevant.

Talk about losers. Does the novel intend to demolish the myth of the fratricidal war, in which we all lost?

Yes, this novel is a story about bad memory, not about bad memory, the memory that wants to distort the things that happened. The other day I read in an interview with Viggo Mortensen that memory was something very strange, that it was based on a perception that was not reliable, that it had to do with the mist. Memory, in addition to that, is a rattle that is tucked into Catalina’s apron, who was shot and thrown into a common grave. Memory are tangible objects, with one and the other we recover the historical story. It is essential to make personal and collective memory, because otherwise intolerable situations occur such as a man from Vox saying that the current government is the worst government in 80 years, which means whitewashing not only the Civil War, but 40 years of repression and precariousness for Many people. The past is not an exotic place to set novels, it is something that is within you, the memory of the past is projected into the present. A country without memory is a sick country. Do not be afraid to remember, to remember rigorously.

It is a common thing in people looking for their dead. Remembering is not about reopening wounds, but about closing them forever.

Exactly, it is not about opening wounds, but about making a fracture callus in the bone, and being able to build on it and not on the sore, to constitute a solid base that allows us to be the advanced democracy that we deserve.

“A country without memory is sick, do not be afraid to remember”


Are we still paying, as a society, the price of not having completely buried Francoism at the time?

When I consider writing this novel, I do it because I begin to feel that a lot of democratic achievements, which I thought were conquered, are once again put into question with two political slogans of the extreme right: that of gender ideology and that of the ideology of democratic memory. It is something that we felt strongly before the pandemic: from public tribunes to feminists we were branded as lesbian terrorists, the horror of gender violence was camouflaged by calling it domestic violence. We take steps back, it makes our hair stand on end to find this kind of speech again. The emergence of this discourse has to do with our Franco past, but also with a thriving far right; that of Trump, Bolsonaro, the extreme right of the hoax, of the Goebbles propaganda. It is what I intend to counteract with this literary style, so that the reader builds his critical consciousness and questions the fakes.

The book reveals a thesis that has not begun to be discussed until a few years ago, but that is beginning to be unearthed: that the elites of now are the same as then, since they were founded by Franco’s repression.

For me, one of the most important themes of the novel is to make an approximation, through a personal story, of how capital accumulated during the Franco regime, and how that accumulation of capital that had to do with a criminal regime translates into who they are now the rich and the poor. Now they are another type of rich and poor, but there are fortunes that come from there. When they say that the past does not matter, we have to understand that it does, to the point that those circumstances determine who my bosses are, whether they exploit me or not. There is another thing that is important, because it not only reflects reality in literature, but it builds it: when we have spoken from memory, we have sinned from an excess of solemnity and sentimentality. I wanted the voices of the murdered women and the missing children to use a beastly and insecticidal sense of humor, so that the receiver listens and realizes that they are making jokes and having fun, learning. This way of breaking expectations is a way of making people think through an unpredictable literary language. The substance and the form are united.

The novel comes at a time when the question of historical memory is at the center of public debate. There have already been certain achievements. Are we at the beginning of the road to true transition?

I hope so. The Democratic Memory Law has, on the one hand, a leg that has to do with graves, justice and reparation; not with revenge. It has another leg that deconstructs the symbols of an inglorious past: the issue of the return of the Pazo de Meirás or what was done in the Valley of the Fallen. Educationally it is very important, it is not to whitewash the saddest and sordid part of our history. I think it is good that it is done, it is necessary, it is not wasted money, we are investing in our future, laying a solid foundation so as not to walk with feet of ash.


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