"Me, the worst in the world, and what?" | Culture

"Me, the worst in the world, and what?" | Culture

Literary encounters empty words in such a way that the act in which they re-fill with meaning always has something miraculous about it. Last Thursday, when FIL had little to close its sixth day, one of those miracles took place. On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Sor Juan Inés de la Cruz Prize, 11 of the winners met to recreate the texts of the Mexican poet who took the habits to write and who, finally, they prohibited it.

Today his effigy is reproduced on 200 peso notes. The Nicaraguan Gioconda Belli, the Chileans Nona Fernández and Tatiana Lobo and the Mexicans Ana García Bergua, Margo Glantz and Angelina Muñiz-Huberman They approached the Jeronimo nun with humor and rigor, starting with poetry, astronomy and rebellion. "Withdrawn yes, never defeated," sentenced Lobo. "Sor Juana represents the impossibility of the woman of her time to dedicate herself to letters if she did not enter a convent," Claudia Piñeiro, who had to study economics because the dictatorship eliminated Humanities careers, had said before the event.

When his turn came, he went to the lectern and announced that he would summarize with five "echoes" of the 21st century the intellectual repression suffered by his 17th colleague: manipulation, mansplaining, machirulo, patriarcado and sorority. At the height of "patriarchy", Piñeiro took out his cell phone, brought it to the microphone and - with his fist raised and a green handkerchief around his wrist - he let the song of the marches in favor of the abortion law in his country : "Now that we are together / now that they see us: / Down with the patriarchy / that will fall!".

If not patriarchy, for now, what was about to collapse with enthusiasm was the Juan Rulfo Auditorium. Once the silence was recovered, the author of Yours claimed as "proud cry" the formula of false humility used by Sor Juana to make her forgive her free thought: "I, the worst in the world". "So what?" Piñeiro added. That famous expression was also spoken by the Colombian Laura Restrepo and the Spanish Clara Usón, who the previous day had received in the same room the 2018 award for The timid killer(Seix Barral), a book that was imposed on the 60 analyzed by the jury. The interventions of another Spaniard -Cristina Sánchez-Andrade- sistering Juana de Asbaje and Emily Dickinson and another Mexican -Cristina Rivera Garza- reading memes maintained the claiming tone without distancing from the literature.

From the left, Ana García, Claudia Piñeiro, Clara Usón Margo Glantz, Tatiana Lobo, Cristina Sánchez, Angelina Muñiz-Huberman, Cristina Rivera Garza and, crouched in the center, Nona Fernández, at the FIL de Guadalajara.
From the left, Ana García, Claudia Piñeiro, Clara Usón Margo Glantz, Tatiana Lobo, Cristina Sánchez, Angelina Muñiz-Huberman, Cristina Rivera Garza and, crouched in the center, Nona Fernández, at the FIL de Guadalajara.

Two decades of winners

The act lasted almost two hours that in fact were more than two decades: it had begun in 1993. That year the FIL hosted a symposium of literary criticism in which the Nicaraguan Milagros Palma proposed to create an award without economic endowment that indicated each November the best novel published by a Spanish-language writer.

The first one chosen was Enchanted Dulcinea, of Angelina Muñiz-Huberman, born in France in 1936, daughter of Spanish Republicans and exiled since childhood in Mexico. From Elena Garro to Marcela Serrano through Almudena Grandes or Marina Perezagua, 23 authors followed: Rivera Garza has won it twice and it was deserted in 2000. Margo Glantz is the only one who also has the FIL FILIP prize on his resume. that of Romance languages, granted to a whole trajectory and that this year has fallen to the Uruguayan poet Ida Vitale. Although Muñiz-Huberman, the dean, maintains that she has felt more discriminated against for being an "experimental" author than for being a woman, her colleagues defend the need for a prize like this.

"Writers are more invisible than writers. While there is no equality of opportunities, we must force it, "argues Claudia Piñeiro. "Maybe in a few years everything will be very even and it will not be necessary, but the conditions still do not exist".

Clara Usón, winner of the Critics Award in 2012 and winner in 1998 of the late Lumen Feminine, is even more vehement: "Our ceiling is not glass, it is made of concrete. You have to go with the drill. In the Anglo-Saxon world they are more advanced, but among us it is still thought that excellence is a thing of men and intimacy, of women. We are judged more severely. "

Dedicated to rewarding specific books, Sor Juana - endowed with 8,800 euros - already has a lot of weight in Latin America and has been setting up a canon of essential titles. The history of the future will have to take it into account. Counted only half because in "ours" of the famous boom missing "ours", the history of the past served on Thursday to close the birthday party.

Asked by the sorjuanas of their respective countries, the "juanitas" -the expression is from Laura Niembro, director of contents of the FIL- elaborated an emergency list with 30 first-rate authors. Ana Maria Matute, Alejandra Pizarnik, Rosario Aguilar, Diamela Eltit, Pieta Bonnett or Sommers Harmony were among those cited. They, the best in the world.


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