Music: Pelo Cucu by Lido Pimienta
Music: Pelo Cucu by Lido Pimienta
Ariana Harwicz ha escrito cuatro libros en español, Matate, Amor, La Débil Mental, Precoz y Degenerado. Matate, Amor y La Débil Mental han sido publicados en el Reino Unido por Charco Press. Die, My Love fue nominada al International Booker Prize en el 2018. Ariana Estudió guion cinematográfico; dramaturgia; y licenciatura en Artes del espectáculo en Paris y un máster en Literatura comparada en La Sorbona.
Gabriela Cabezón Cámara: Es autora de las novelas La Virgen Cabezas y Las Aventuras de la China Iron, ambas publicadas en el Reino Unido por Charco Press. Las Aventuras de la China Iron esta nominada el International Booker Prize 2020. Es autora también de dos nouvelles: Le viste la cara a Dios y Romance de la Negra Rubia, y de las novelas gráficas Beya y a su Despojo fue una Muchedumbre.
Gabriela Estudió letras en la Universidad de Buenos Aires. En 2013 fue escritora residente de la Universidad de California en Berkeley. Actualmente ejerce el periodismo de manera independiente.
Feebleminded is narrated with an intense and fragmented prose characteristic of Ariana Harwicz (Argentina, 1977). It is the second book of what Harwicz calls an “involuntary trilogy” where she explores motherhood, how it affects the characters psychically, and how it sways their desires. Divided in three parts and with only 117 pages Feebleminded is a bold and superb short novel that confronts the impossible parameters society has set for women.
In the book, a woman in her late 20s lives with her toxic and alcoholic mother. They are more like two best friends than mother and daughter. Their house is a creepy place with wigs hanging up and mice in jars of formaldehyde. We learn about the daughter’s neglected childhood through feverish memories unveiled in conversations and internal monologues. Memories as far in the past as when she was conceived (“the guy comes inside my mum looking skyward and so it all begins”), or from one night when she was in her mother’s womb and the mum threw dice to decide if she’d get rid of the unknown creature inside her.
The pace of the novel is like a staccato: short punchy sentences where there is an intensity, a heaviness; only with short sentences can this roller-coaster of a book be bearable. We follow the story through dialogues where you don’t know if it’s the mother or the daughter talking. Other times the dialogue is internal. We feel their madness, their constant delirium in each phrase, or as the daughter says: “I’m not crazy, just possessed”.
The daughter is in a relationship with a married man who leaves her because his wife is pregnant. She feels angry — “it was the other common bitch who got him”, she thinks. She wishes for the baby to be born dead, or to be a Siamese twin stuck to a dog. But when her mum learns about this, she has a more sinister plan of revenge.
The two women are marginalised, they are maladaptive, they are happy in a very disturbing way. They have relationships with impossible men. They fantasise about men coming to their house to rape them. They drink whisky, talk about sex and masturbate in an insatiable way. From the opening paragraph —each chapter is one long paragraph— when we are getting to know them: “sitting on my clit I invent a life for myself in the clouds. I quiver, I shake, my fingers are my morphine and for that brief moment everything’s fine”.
They are verbally and physically violent to each other. Sometimes the daughter wishes for a different life. “If I could only have started a new chapter elsewhere… say bye to mum without fearing the crack of a fired arrow”. Yet, they are inseparable. At the end of part I, the mother has left and the daughter is searching for her. At the end of part II, it is the daughter who leaves the mother. But they both return. At times they are tired of life, but most times they can’t get enough of it. At the end of part III they are crawling on hands and knees, covered in blood: “let it all explode, let it all turn to dust, says mother, still wanting more.”
Translated into English by Annie McDermott and Carolina Orloff, from its original in Spanish La Debil Mental, reading this book is an intense deranged tension that only a writer like Ariana Harwicz, who wants to transgress with her work, can achieve.
Harwicz’s main characters – at least in this trilogy – are women searching for who they are in a world that is telling them how they should be. The first book of this trilogy Die, My Love is similarly a sharp book about a marginalised woman who lives with her husband and unwanted baby. It was nominated for the 2018 Man Booker International Prize, and for the Republic of Consciousness Prize, placing Ariana Harwicz at the forefront of the so-called new Argentinian fiction.
* I’ll be talking with Ariana Harwicz and Gabriela Cabezón Cámara in an online event on 3 June 2020 7pm (UK time), Find out more HERE!
Photo: Tim Goalen
Event on the 13th of September!
With our colleagues from FLAWA Festival we are launching an amazing fanzine created by women and gender diverse writers and illustrators from Latin America… so we are having a Literary Party!
Meet Brazilian author Luiza Sauma, who will be talking about her second novel Everything You Ever Wanted.
There’ll be an open mic for any author who wants to take over the stage and share their work.
PLUS MUSIC! DJ Amancai will be playing Latin tunes along the way!
About the fanzine:
FLAWA Festival and Literary South have created a fanzine led by women and gender diverse writers that celebrates all the literary events during FLAWA Festival 2019.
Featuring poems by Calu Lema, Soraya Fernandez DF, Barbara López Cardona, Angelica Quintero (Hada Candelaria), Sonia Quintero, Patricia Cardona, Jael de la Luz, Sonia Hadj Said and three poets from Las Juanas poetry collective (Mabel Evergreen-Oaks, Maria Eugenia Bravo-Calderara, Denisse Vargas). Interviews with Alia Trabucco Zerán, Yara Rodrigues Fowler. Also, Rebecca Wilson interviewing the authors, ilustrations by Mitucami Mituca, Gisella Stapleton Prieto and images by Ingrid Ayunkuyen Guyon.
Designed by Jeimy Caviedes. Edited by Silvia Juliana Rothlisberger.
Poet and theatre maker Michelle Madsen. Listen and discover what we were NOT wearing! While Michelle shares some of her poems and life stories. Listen! & enjoy!
Valeria Luiselli’s first novel published in 2012 (Spanish tittle Los Ingravidos) takes its English title from the poem In a Station of the Metro by Ezra Pound. The poem is featured in the book and becomes part of the story as the different narrators in the book start to recognise faces in New York’s metro.
Three stories in three different times are delivered in fragmented paragraphs. Each paragraph jumps from one story to the other in a very skilful way.
Story 1: The narrator -a woman who lives in Mexico City with her husband and two children – is writing a book about the time when she lived in New York, before being a wife or a mum.
Story 2: The book the woman is writing becomes part of the narrative and it is about her time in New York working as a literary translator and researcher for a small publishing house, the people she knew and how she became obsessed with the Mexican poet Gilberto Owen who lived in New York between 1928 and 1930.
Story 3: Then we start reading paragraphs were the narrator is the poet Gilberto Owen himself and his time in New York. How he was friend of Federico Garcia Lorca (who lived in New York at that time too).
The three stories are interwoven in such a way that even though each paragraph changes in time, location and narrator you never feel at lost while reading it.
Faces in the crowd is also about the literary scene from the Spanish-speaking diaspora in New York from the time when Gilberto Owen and Garcia Lorca lived there. At least the literary scene imagined by the author Valeria Luiselli as there is no real account of the two poets meeting at the time in New York.
(When I started reading it I couldn’t stop so finished it in one sitting)!