Gabriela Cabezón Cámara was born in Buenos Aires in 1968. She has published the novel Slum Virgin (known in Spanish as La Virgen Cabeza, 2009), the nouvelle Le viste la cara a Dios (You’ve Seen God’s Face, 2011), and La Isla de la Luna (Island of the Moon, 2012). She has also published the comic Beya, le viste la cara a Dios (Biutiful, You’ve Seen God’s Face), based on the former text and illustrated by Iñaki Echeverría (2013). In 2014 she published the novel Romance de la Negra Rubia (Romance of the Black Blonde) and the following year she produced Sacrificios (Sacrifices), edited by the Argentinian National Library for the Bicentenary Collection. Also in 2015 her book of stories, Y su despojo fue una muchedumbre (And Her Waste Was a Crowd) came out, illustrated once again by Iñaki Echeverría. In 2013 she was writer in residence at UC Berkeley, where she also taught. She was one of the founders of the NiUnaMenos (“Not One Less”) movement against femicides and gender violence.
Gabi on Gabi
As a teenager, she sold car insurance on the street from a little stand on a very busy corner in her home city of Buenos Aires. And she would read. Later she did data entry for an electricity company. She was paid according to the amount of data she entered. She didn’t get paid much. She could not help reading. She would wake up late. She didn’t like early mornings. (Later on in life she would stop waking up early altogether.) She used to walk a great distance from the bus to school, crossing a railway line along the way, all whilst reading. Once she nearly got hit by a train. Luckily back then she had no say on her hairstyle, and a lady passing grabbed her by the plat that her mother had chosen for her and yanked her to safety. That lady – that plat - saved her life. Even then, she already knew that she wanted to be a writer. It happened so naturally. She felt so at home in that world, in that other place where everything was decided and constructed - where she herself was constructed - with words, that it never occurred to her that she could do or be anything else. She had many jobs. She bought many books. She stole more books. She had acquired a huge library long before she had a home in which to place it. And all the while she wanted to write. A few times she was able to start. And some of those times she was even able to finish. This happened with Slum Virgin and with her other novels Le viste la cara a Dios (You’ve Seen God’s Face), Romance de la Negra Rubia (Romance of the Black Blonde), with the graphic novel Beya (Biutiful) and with the illustrated book of stories, Y su despojo fue una muchedumbre (And Her Waste was a Crowd). Now Gabi is a lecturer of the first Creative Writing course at the Universidad Nacional de las Artes (Argentina). She also writes articles for several cultural publications and newspapers. In the end it turned out that all this reading and writing became life itself for her. And she is ok with that.
Ricardo Romero was born in the province of Entre Ríos, in northern Argentina, in 1976. He studied Literature at the Universidad Nacional de Córdoba and has been living in Buenos Aires since 2002. Between 2003 and 2006 he directed the literary journal Oliverio and between 2006 and 2010 he was one of the members of the ‘El Quinteto de la Muerte’ (The Lethal Quintet) with which he published two books: 5 and La fiesta de la narrativa (Fiction’s Party). He has also published a book of short stories, Tantas noches como sean necesarias (As Many Nights as may be Necessary, 2006) and the novels Ninguna parte (Nowhere, 2003), El síndrome de Rasputín (Rasputin’s Syndrome, 2008), Los bailarines del fin del mundo (The Dancers of the End of the World, 2009), Perros de la lluvia (Rain Dogs, 2011), El spleen de los muertos (The Spleen of the Dead, 2013) and Historia de Roque Rey (The Tale of Roque Rey, 2014). The President’s Room (2015) is his latest novel.
Ricardo on Ricardo
My parents bore witness to this: when I was five years old, I used to play at pretending to be a writer, long before I learnt how to write. I would adopt the face of someone writing - arched eyebrows, wrinkly forehead - and scribble away. Years later I learnt how to write but, more importantly, I learnt how to read. And I took reading very seriously. If in my book the pirate Blackbeard had to walk two hundred steps before entering a hostile town, then I would walk two hundred steps around the block, to at least understand what that felt like. Now that I am forty, things haven’t changed much. Reading continues to be a mental as well as physical experience. And so is writing. It is the experience that justifies me beyond the outcome.
Over the years I completed a university degree, created literary journals and became an editor. Always surrounded by reading and writing. In the meantime, I continued to read and write myself. I have published seven novels and a book of short stories, some of which have been translated into French, Italian and Portuguese. I’ve written two other novels about to be published. I’ve also written scripts for films and for television and articles for different media.
If today I had to explain why I do what I do, I would talk about those games I played before writing came to be writing. I would list walks round hostile towns. Yet I would also talk about Stalker, Tarkovski’s film. And I would say that literature is for me like the zone visited by the characters in the film, where everything looks the same and where everything is, in fact, different. Everything changes in literature. None of the conversations with which we construct reality are the same once within it. Literature misinterprets them, unsettles them, re-signifies them, empties them and fills them up again. Literature puts these conversations in check and gives back to words their original jolt.
I don’t have many certainties but the ones I do have are enough for me. I know nobody is waiting for me to write, and I know that this is not a hindrance to writing but rather its most intriguing, political and liberating aspect. I know that choice is imagination’s physical exercise and that persevering is what matters. Time and again.
Luis Sagasti, a writer, lecturer and art critic, was born in Bahía Blanca, Argentina in 1963. He graduated in History at the Universidad Nacional del Sur where he now teaches. From 1995 to 2003 he was Curator in charge of Education and Cultural Outreach at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Bahía Blanca, authoring numerous art catalogues for exhibitions. Including Fireflies (known in Spanish as Bellas Artes, 2011), he has published four novels: El Canon de Leipzig (Leipzig's Canon, 1999), Los mares de la Luna (Seas of the Moon, 2006), and Maelstrom (2015). He also has a book of essays Perdidos en el espacio (Lost in Space, 2011). His new novel, Una ofrenda musical (A Musical Offering) came out in early 2017.
Luis on Luis
When I was six years old, my grandfather gave me a 12-volume encyclopaedia, chaotic and surprising at the same time, which was called I know it all. It was a kind of Google unplugged where articles –of which I would only read the captions under the illustrations– went from Troy to silk worms, from the history of the dress to Giuseppe Verdi, and so forth. On turning the page, anything could happen. Perhaps it was this way of accessing knowledge that from the outset influenced me to find hidden links between stories and tales that bear no apparent connection. No doubt this also swayed me to be fascinated by the poetic dimension sometimes carried by pure information: that The Beatles are the only musicians who can be seen running outside a stage or that Buddha never knew what the sea looked like. Back then, when I was six, book translations into Spanish were mostly done in Argentina, using a perfectly balanced Spanish with no signs of the Argentinian dialect, an inappropriate localism, but without it being neutral either, if that is at all possible. Whoever translates, betrays, someone said once. So, if this is how things are, this was like being stabbed in the back by amazing daggers. The encyclopaedia, as I found out much later, was originally from Italy and I don’t think it bore any kind of hidden key that would allow an adult to gain access to the succession of entries. We children didn’t need such a key. The worthwhile figures, the capitals of the world, those can be found when one least searches for them.
Jorge on Jorge
I entered literature through the window. My first encounter was with alternative culture. In Argentina, more specifically in Buenos Aires, towards the end of the 70s and at the beginning of the 80s, the underground movement was vital, diverse and highly necessary. When I was 13 I bought an underground magazine that covered all things that had remained invisible: rock and roll, environmental issues, politics and art understood as a subversive form. Through these ill-printed pages, I came across a short story by Lovecraft that blew my mind. It presented itself to me like a strange object that escaped everything I had conceived as literature. I didn’t think it possible for a text to have such a form. It was an intense experience. It opened up to me a world into which I dived full-heartedly. Then I entered the world of poetry through song lyrics and through literature read by musicians. By then, I had discovered a place full of second-hand books and had bought as many as I could. I would read everywhere: in bed, on the bus, under a tree, at cafés, in school and, later on, at work in the different jobs I had. I also studied Literature at University and I took much longer than average to finish my degree.
The truth is that since I began to read, I also – secretly - began to write. There is one image that comes to mind: I am at home, in the kitchen. I write words on a piece of paper with the idea of creating a poem. Hours go by. I write and cross words out. I move forward with desperate slowness; a habit I’ve kept until today. Later I moved from verse to prose, although I never really abandoned poetry as a point of view and as tone, not even when I write short stories or novels. I believe there is a certain dynamic between sound and silence, a certain music which makes the words in the text mean more than their sheer definition. This is what makes a text infinite, what turns it into something that is uncertain but that can also be a refuge. These are the kinds of texts I take pleasure in, and also the kinds of text I try to write. I have published four books of poetry, three of short stories and four novels. And all along my craft with the word has remained exactly that: a delight.
Jorge Consiglio was born in Buenos Aires in 1962. He has published four novels: El bien (The Good, 2003; Award for Emerging Writers, Opera Prima, Spain), Gramática de la sombra (Grammar of the Shadows, 2007; Third Municipal Prize for Novels), Pequeñas intenciones (Small Intentions, 2011; Second National Prize for Novels, First Municipal Prize for Novels) and Hospital Posadas (2015). They have all been awarded prizes in Argentina and in Spain. He has also published three collections of short stories, including Southerly (2016), whose title in Spanish is Villa del Parque, and five books of poems.
Compared to Nathalie Sarraute, Virgina Woolf and Sylvia Plath, Ariana Harwicz is one of the most radical figures in contemporary Argentinian literature. Her prose is characterized by its violence, eroticism, irony and direct criticism to the clichés surrounding the notions of the family and conventional relationships. Born in Buenos Aires in 1977, Harwicz studied screenwriting and drama in Argentina, and earned a first degree in Performing Arts from the University of Paris VII as well as a Master’s degree in comparative literature from the Sorbonne. She has taught screenwriting and written two plays, which have been staged in Buenos Aires. She directed the documentary El día del Ceviche (Ceviche’s Day), which has been shown at festivals in Argentina, Brazil, Cuba and Venezuela. Her first novel, Die, My Love received rave reviews and was named best novel of 2012 by the Argentinian daily La Nación. It is currently being adapted for theatre in Buenos Aires and in Israel. She is considered to be at the forefront of the so-called new Argentinian fiction, together with other female writers such as Selva Almada, Samanta Schweblin, Mariana Enríquez and Gabriela Cabezón Cámara.
Ariana on Ariana
I write. I was born in Buenos Aires and have been living in the French countryside since 2007. I published my first novel, Die, My Love (known in Spanish as Matate, amor) in 2012 in Spain through Lengua de Trapo, in Argentina through Paradiso and now Mardulce (re-editing it in 2017), and in Peru (through Animal de Invierno). It has been translated into Hebrew (Zikit Books, 2014), and has been adapted for the stage in Israel, Spain and Argentina. Die, My Love was followed by La débil mental (The Mentally Weak, Mardulce, 2014) and Precoz (Precocious, Mardulce, 2015 and Rata in Spain, 2016). I have also co-authored a book of essays, Tan intertextual que te desmayás (So intertextual that you faint) together with Sol Pérez (published in Spain by Contrabando, 2013). I am currently writing a new novel, 'Racist', an experiment that attempts to put together, or take apart, a language that mixes French, Spanish and jargon from the French countryside.
Who needs an epic story or even plot when there are Ariana Harwicz's novels to capture your imagination? The acoustic quality of her prose, the pulse of her voice, the intensity of her imagery make her subjects so daring, so relentless, so damned and unconventional– very hard to drop or ever to forget.