Ariana Harwicz on her first novel Die, My Love, nominated for the Man Booker International Prize

Silvia Rothlisberger

When the Argentinian writer Ariana Harwicz wrote her first novel five years ago she didn’t expect the attention it would get from the English-speaking world. Die, My Love is Harwicz’s debut novel long-listed for the Man Booker International Prize 2018. “For a book that has been catalogued as avant-garde and experimental,” she says, “being in the same list with bestseller writers, Nobel Prize writers, Man Booker writers means bravery from them and a great achievement for us.”

Set in rural France, the novel explores being marginalised through its foreign main character. An unnamed woman on the verge of madness, living with her husband and unwanted baby, her nationality or native language are never revealed. “She is unnamed because she only has that role that society gives her: she is a mother, a wife, a lover,” Harwicz explains. “So not giving her a name is a way of irony, it’s a way of laughing at those conventional roles.”

Though there are parallels between the main character and Harwicz’ own life (she wrote this novel after having a baby and moving to the countryside in France) the novel was born from a vision. “A stag appears in the middle of the forest and stares at her as no one has ever done it. Not her husband, not her child, no one,” she says. A foreign woman living in the countryside near a forest, in the midst of that loneliness, with a stag that stares at her, and a baby crying. ”From this alchemy emerges the prose and the music of my first novel”.

Die, My Love is written in an intense and fragmented prose. “The fragmented prose might be related to the way the nights are cut by the baby’s crying. These cries that cut the dream, hence the night, like in One Thousand and one nights or like poetry. And also from an intensity that has to be cut so that it is bearable.”

The imagery of the prose is also influenced by Harwicz’s background as she studied screenwriting and drama in her home country Argentina. “My writing comes from the theatrical concepts of composition and from the techniques in film,” she says, “I always see the scenes as if they were being filmed with a camera”.

The short sentences and violent pace are perfectly captured by Sarah Moses and Carolina Orloff’s translation from its Spanish original. “The process of translating the novel was fascinating to me,” Harwicz says. “I had a close relationship with the translators, answering all their doubts. I could rethink the text with them and it was like rewriting the book all over again”. Die, My love has also been translated into Hebrew and the Man Booker nomination is opening new doors. “Thanks to the novel’s growth it will be translated into more languages.”

Die, My Love was also nominated for the Republic of Consciousness Prize 2018. In its second year now this prize celebrates small presses for taking risks in niche literature. Die, My Love is published by Charco Press, a new indie press based in Edinburgh dedicated to contemporary Latin American writers in translation.“[Both nominations] are also a great achievement for the press house,” she says.

Harwicz has two more novels published in her native Spanish that form an “involuntary” trilogy starting with Die, My Love. “It wasn’t conceived as a trilogy. It was more a literary longing which extended through three novels.” The three novels have mothers as their main characters and in all of them these women are marginalised. “The feminine character of each novel is desperately searching for who she is,” she says. “I wanted to explore how motherhood affects the characters psychically and how it touches their desires.”

In the last two years of the Man Booker International Prize the two writers nominated from Latin America are both women and from Argentina. Samanta Schweblin with Fever Dream in 2017 and this year, Harwicz. “I think this speaks about a moment of greater visibility of Latin American literature and specially about a greater visibility for women writers.” For Harwicz it is a consequence of women’s movements, which are impacting the literary world.

 

#33 Chile! Author Gonzalo C. Garcia and poet & singer-songwriter Violeta Parra

Sound engineer: Oscar Perez

On the first half of this episode we interviewed the Chilean author Gonzalo C. Garcia about his debut novel, shortlisted for the Edinburgh First Book Award, We are the end.

We Are The End, is a book heavily influenced by Gonzalo C. Garcia’s marked interest in Santiago de Chile, the relationship between video games, digital culture and everyday constructions of narrative.

In the interview, Gonzalo C. Garcia talks about how music triggered his interest in writing, the music scene in Santiago de Chile, the process of writing his first novel, being a lecturer in creative writing; while sharing some tunes from his We-are-the-end-playlist.

Gonzalo C. Garcia currently teaches creative writing at the University of Warwick. We Are the End is his debut novel.

On the second half of the episode and celebrating the 100 birthday of the poet and singer-songwriter Violeta Parra, we invited the academic, poet and author Consuelo Rivera-Fuentes to talk about the remarkable woman that Violeta Parra was.

Mentioned in this episode:

Indy publisher: Galley Beggar Press

Music band: Miss Garrison

Author: Sherman Alexie

Gonzalo C. Garcia’s playlist 

Chilean composer, songwriter, folklorist, ethnomusicologist and visual artist Violeta Parra

Décimas

Academic, writer, poet and publisher Consuelo Rivera-Fuentes was featured on episode 9!

Songs of Violeta Parra shared in this episode:

Gracias a la vida

Volver a los 17

 

#32 Author Fernando Sdrigotti + music from Gabriel Moreno & The Quivering Poets

Sound engineer: Oscar Perez

September’s book is Dysfunctional Males by Argentinian author Fernando Sdrigotti who answered questions from readers and from an invited audience in London’s Calder Bookshop and Theatre.

Fernando Sdrigotti is from Argentina and has been living in London since the early noughties. Fernando is editor of the online magazine Minor Literature[s].  Dysfunctional Males is his third published book but the first one he wrote directly in English. In this interview he talks about switching languages,  exploring London as a writer, what is expected of Latin American writers and how he is crossing that barrier by not falling to those expectations.

About Dysfunctional Males:

Dysfunctional Males is a book of five short stories, all set in London, with a strong urban element, that deal with masculinity, loneliness, friendship, alienation, addictions; through the misadventures of its characters.

Gabriel Moreno & The Quivering Poets is a folk group lead by poet & singer-songwriter Gabriel Moreno. They are launching their new album Farewell Belief in October. In this episode there is a song from this album called Joselin, and two songs from Gabriel Moreno’s previews album Love and Decadence: No one can reach us here and We are what we are.

album launch gabriel moreno & the quivering poets

 

Mentioned in this episode:

Photos from the event with Sdrigotti

We interviewed Fernando Sdrigotti on Saturday 23 September at Calder Bookshop & theatre.

 

Poet & singer-songwriter Gabriel Moreno was featured on episode #4…

Joselin

Episode 29: Book club edition – Bookshops by Jorge Carrión

On episode 29, author Jorge Carrión answers questions about his long essay Bookshops.

Listen and discover the way Jorge Carrión linked the world using as connection all the bookshops he visited during 20 years of travelling.

Sound engineer: Oscar Pérez

Piano and book’s excerpts reading: Dave Rothlisberger

 

Mentioned in this episode:

Manifesto against Amazon (Spanish): Contra Amazon: siete razones / un manifiesto

 

Episode 28: The Bowie Neurotransmitter by Susana Medina

 

Sound engineer: Oscar Pérez.

Susana Medina learned English by translating David Bowie’s songs into Spanish when she was a teenager living with her family in Spain. Since then Bowie was a permanent presence in her life. Following Bowie’s death in 2016, Susana was shocked when a friend told her that there was no message in David Bowie’s music. From this statement Susana Medina started to build an argument in her head that evolved into this essay tribute to David Bowie.

Mentioned in this episode:

Piece of paper press

Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman

Jorge Luis Borges

Julio Cortazar

 

Episode 27: Bookshop stories

 

On episode 27 we decided to do a small homage to bookshops by sharing three bookshop stories:

The first one is a small bookshop and theatre in London called Calder Bookshop & Theatre.

The second one comes from a Cuban musician who discovered a book by Julio Cortazar, in a bookshop in Santiago de Compostela, that would led her to a very ambitious musical project.

The third one is from Spanish author & singer-songwriter Isabel Ros-Lopez who we interviewed on episode 19. Isabel talks about Pepe Negrete’s bookshop during the years of Franco’s dictatorship.

Mentioned in this episode:

Calder Bookshop & Theatre:

Jamila Purofilin

Jamila Purofilin website

Poet and Singer-songwriter Isabel Ros-Lopez

Pepenegrete Bookshop in Malaga

Episode 26: Artist, poet & fiction writer Daniella Valz Gen

Daniella Vals Gen is an artist, poet and fiction writer from Lima, Peru. On this episode Vals Gen shares some of her poetry and talks about her different projects. Including a reading group, and two books she is working on.

Mentioned in this episode:

Daniella Vals Gen website

Poets

Cesar Vallejo

Martin Adan

Jose Maria Eguren

 

Book: Ocean Vuong’s Night Sky with Exit Wounds

 

 

Sound engineer: Oscar Pérez

Music: Raíz by Bomba Stereo downloaded from the Free Music Archive under a Creative Commons license.

 

 

Episode 25: Book club edition – Colonel Lágrimas by Carlos Fonseca

Sound engineer Oscar Pérez

We are 25! And coming of age!!!

In episode 25, author Carlos Fonseca answered questions that readers sent throughout the month about his debut novel Colonel Lágrimas.

Colonel Lagrimas is Loosely based on the fascinating life story of the eccentric mathematician Alexander Grothendieck. Using an experimental narrative, Colonel Lágrimas is a collage of information. A film seen through the lens of a camera that transforms the reader into an active observer.

“Nowadays in our information era there is nothing more false than linearity, we don’t live in a linear world. We live in a place where we gather information from here and there constructing collages, so I wanted to experiment with a novel that processes information in the new ways in which we are accustomed through Twitter, Facebook. Like an information saturated society that picks and chooses almost like a rag-picker.”

Carlos Fonseca

 

Mentioned in this episode: