For Cathi Unsworth, Londoner with exuberantly blue hair, former music critic of the Melody Maker and pioneer of that called punk noir, the elementary particle of criminal literature is "the lack of empathy between men and women". She was responding this Wednesday in Barcelona to the question that she asks herself: "Why do they hate us so much?" To Unsworth, whose work, exotic, musical, rare and social – "I remember Norfolk as a child, the oil wells burning, I thought Margaret Thatcher was a witch and that was her black mass to destroy the community" -, which she just published in Spain , with the Muddy Mots Black stamp, Weirdo, you are interested in adolescence. That time "in which the brain is not yet formed, it still lacks empathy, so it is practically the brain of a psychopath".
Yes, the time has come to question everything, that it does not seem normal to us that in the old black novel women were 'props'
Unsworth, invited to the this year's BCNegra edition, dedicated to exploring the dangers (and advantages for the genre) of the port city, exorcises its discomfort at the idea that the woman is conceived, again and again, in the police genre, as a victim through the witch hunt . In Weirdo, the victims look like executioners, and the executioners are really victims, and the background is that of how simple it seemed to be until 1944 to destroy someone raising their voices to call them "witch". "The greatest inequality that exists in the world is that between men and women," he says, and the crime novel has been, for a long time, not only a reflection of it but its enhancer. "Yes, the time has come to question everything, that it does not seem normal for us in the old black novel to be women props for the male, "says Florencia Etcheves, author of Cornelia (Planet), the novel on which Netflix's series on trafficking in women is based Lost.
"This other novel also describes a time, and helps us remember where we do not want to go back," says the Argentine writer, who began as a reporter of events and ended up feeling the need to give a story to all those cases of which she only saw one piece. "When the trial ended, or when the report on the latest femicide ended, I was left wondering what would become of that woman's children, how the family would support it, what was happening in jail with her killer," she says. As a woman, she feels obliged to create female characters that do not respond to the cliché, that are not only victims. And that they may be imperfect. "When we talk about equality, we also talk about the right to be bad, to not have to be wonder woman, to be able to make mistakes. My novels are full of failed, imperfect women, "he says.
Lisa McInerney, the queen of dirty realism irish –theirs are not police but black stories about descents to the hell of society that, "being there, Ireland does not want you to see" – believes that the genre is expanding in that empathic sense that has to do, not so much with the difference between men and women, as with the idea of the development of the characters, something to which the rise of the genre in television has contributed. "The characters are more and more human, we focus more on them and we forget the plot a bit, and that gives the reader tools to understand the reality that we describe without clichés," he argues.
His latest novel, The miracles of blood (AdN), is the portrait of a young man, Ryan Cusack, to whom his condition of Italian-Irish and, above all, his social extraction – a working class with no future – condemn the wrong decisions all the time. "You could say that the villain of my novels is society, because it does not let you move. I come from there, from the same place that Ryan comes from, and I've been watching him for too long, "he says.
"Yes, I think the writer is born, it is not done", and he asks with a smile about the clichés: "How could we believe, not since women were mere spectators in the classic black novel, but rather that Gangster was a guy given to alcohol that was dedicated to drop tacos and beatings? To be dedicated to what they do, the gangsters, any trafficker, you have to be smart, an intelligent uncle, otherwise you would not make money. "