The long shadow of machismo extends over the literary world in Latin America. Often it is a blurred silhouette, hardly noticeable, but at other times it has a clear contour, abundant contrast, and it is perfectly recognizable. In some moments he despises, in others corners and more than once tries to impose that the most banal subjects are for the authors. "When I finish Leopard in the sun (Alfaguara, 1993) an editor told me: 'It's fine but it seems written by a man', tells the Colombian Laura Restrepo (Bogotá, 1950) about a novel that delves into the violence between clans of her country.
It has been more than four decades Margo Glantz (Mexico City, 1930), FIL Guadalajara Award 2010, managed to publish one of his fiction works. It was the 70s and he had avoided the disdain for his work on more than one occasion. "My first books nobody wanted to publish. She was a university professor and they only wanted rehearsals. They rejected fiction and partly because it was a woman. My next work also had to pay at the author's expense, "he says.
It also sounded strange that Nona Fernández (Santiago de Chile, 1971) delves into Chilean political history in his novels, instead of covering the subjects that a long tradition has assigned to women. "I came with one of my books and they liked it but they told me why I did not write about bulimia. Then I realized that I was entering male territory, "says the writer, awarded in 2017 with the Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz Prize.
All three have crossed borders, have broken with the established limits and have rebelled against the prejudices of the book industry where the machismo that has permeated everything since ancient times is also embedded. "There is a sky [literario] and we are in purgatory or in limbo. It is believed that intellectuality is for men ", adds the Nicaraguan Gioconda Belli (Managua, 1948). Misogyny is reluctant to leave the world of letters where however have exercised for decades its power a number of literary agents such as the late Carmen Balcells (1930-2015) and editors – Elena Ramírez (Seix Barral), Silvia Sesé (Anagrama) or Beatriz Moura (Tusquets) -. And also in this 2018 has looked more than ever to the writers. All national literature awards in Spain have been for them, with the exception of history. Also the Cervantes fell on Ida Vitale who also took the FIL of Romance Languages. A recognition granted by the International Book Fair of Guadalajara in this edition has given more visibility than ever to the writers. In the most important literary meeting in Spanish, more than a dozen tables have been held to talk about Me Too, feminism and letters.
"I would not like that they give me a prize for being a woman, or that they incorporate me to a table because they need a female quota. I do not want to be the figurine that fixes the party. But I would not like it if I do not appear because I act lazy and do not look for women because their names are less obvious ", defends the Argentine Leila Guerriero (Junín, Argentina, 1967).
Restrepo laughs at the mechanisms of some authors to preserve their fame. "It's the salvation of the last Mohican," he says while smiling. He enjoys the game of transfer of prestige that some writers enter and which, he assures, also publishers participate. "Proliferate in the books the covers [y las fajas] in which it is said that a new authors Franz Kafka, Thomas Mann, William Faulkner, or Ernest Hemingway. I have never read that a man inherits the literature of Marguerite Yourcenar, nor that an author writes like Goethe. "
In fact, Belli's last book, The fevers of memory, which deals with the flight of a French nobleman who has to create a new identity in Nicaragua, was to be summarized on the back cover as "a novel of love, mystery and adventure". "It's the product of marketing, in the end we could change it," says the author of The inhabited woman. "There is a market segmentation in which they try to convert our books into a product for women, when in reality I, for example, have a good number of readers. This affects visibility because the criticism, almost all made by men, buys that idea and passes over women's literature. "
Rediscover machismo in the past
Guerriero knows an exception, an isolated case, by not having suffered the "weight of the genre to search for editors, nor to carry out the work". "I know this is not what happens in most cases," he adds. The same thing does not happen to Margo Glantz that when he inquires into his past he runs into that phrase that a critic released shortly after he translated History of the eye, an erotic work written by George Bataille. "He wrote that he had done an open-leg translation and I do not think something like that was said to a man," he concludes. He also traces Fernández's memory and goes head-to-head with those tables on pink literature in which he was included in more than one international fair. "It seems that as a woman I have to talk about it even if my books have nothing to do with those issues," he says.
Most recent in the memory is the Mexican Gabriela Jaúregui (Mexico City, 1979) to that teacher who in a grant for creators of the Mexican Government (Fonca) was addressing women to release: "Their telenovelas for Televisa" or that class in which the tutor shouted to a girl: "Get up! (Get undressed!) ". Several exabrupts full of misogyny come to mind, some of which are told in a book in which 13 authors, including Margo Glanzt, Brenda Lozano, Cristina Rivera Garza, Veronica Gerber Bicecci and Vivian Abenshushan, express their vision of feminism . tsunami (Sixth Floor, 2018) brings together writers of several generations, who have lived different stages of the feminist movement, to form the strongest of the waves, a tsunami of devastating force.
"One of the first barriers that a woman finds in literature is being able to be heard and read without the shadow of gender. Many of us have also suffered flirtation from writers. Before arriving at what you write, they reach your bodies, to see if you are beautiful. They check your legs. I had a boyfriend who told me: 'They publish you in the cultural supplement because you're in a miniskirt,' says Abenshushan (Mexico City, 1972).
A long-term career for them, in which in many cases the obstacles are hidden but in which also stands some other wall difficult to overcome. "There are barriers for women in literature although this does not mean a great drama for me," says Restrepo. the most raw fight against machismo is lived in the streets of Latin America, "In those countries, like Mexico where they are between life and death. Seven women are murdered here a day, "recalls Abenshushan.
That of literature is another battle to overcome more of the feminist movement that in Argentina fight for legal abortion, in Spain it floods the streets and in Mexico it grows with every femicide. But before the vindication and the fight against the machismo, Glantz sends a warning to avoid falling in the dogmatism: "It is fundamental that the women take conscience and we obtained the equality but we must not fall in another form of fundamentalism. You have to avoid such ridiculous things as trying to correct the story, change the end of the opera Carmen, stop showing some paintings or not represent some plays of theaters ".