Sunday, September 01, 2019

SEPTIEMBRE

SEPTIEMBRE
(versión 2019)


Nos sentamos en la tarde, y vemos cómo se cierne lentamente la oscuridad:

Ningún reloj cuenta esto. 
Cuando los besos se repiten y los brazos nos sostienen
No importa dónde queda el tiempo. 

Es la mitad del verano: las hojas cuelgan enormes y quietas: 
Detrás del ojo una estrella,
Bajo la seda de la muñeca un mar, dice
El tiempo no está en ninguna parte.

Nos quedamos: las hojas no han cronometrado el verano. 
Ahora ningún reloj necesita
Decir que solo tenemos lo que recordamos: 
Los minutos que hacen rodar nuestras cabezas

Como las de los desafortunados rey y reina
Cuando gobierna la muchedumbre insensata; 
Y los árboles reflejan quietamente sus coronas
En las albercas. 


SEPTIEMBRE
(versión 2012)
Nos sentamos ya tarde, y vemos desplegarse lentamente a la oscuridad:
Ningún reloj cuenta esto.
Cuando los besos se repiten y los brazos aprietan
No importa dónde está el tiempo.

Es la mitad del verano: las hojas cuelgan enormes y quietas:
Detrás del ojo, una estrella,
Bajo la seda de la muñeca, un mar dice
El tiempo no está en ningún lado.

Permanecemos: las hojas no han medido el verano.
Ningún reloj necesita
Decir que sólo tenemos lo que recordamos:
Los minutos que hacen rodar nuestras cabezas

Como las de los desafortunados rey y reina
Cuando gobierna la muchedumbre insensata:
Y los árboles quietos reflejan sus coronas
En las albercas.

September, Ted Hughes

Traducción al español por crg.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

SHIRLEY JACKSON AWARD




Happy to announce that The Taiga Syndrome, translated by Suzanne Jill Levine and Aviva Kana, and published by Dorothy Project, is the winner of the Shirley Jackson Award in the category of novella.

Congratulations to all award-winners and nominees.

See the whole list here.

--crg

Thursday, May 23, 2019

FINCAR SOBRE TIERRA FIRME. LA ESCRITURA GEOLÓGICA DE GERARDO ARANA


I. Des-sedimentar para hacer la pregunta sobre la justicia
No es necesario haber leído “Suave patria”, el poema que Ramón López Velarde escribió en 1921 mientras México salía de más de una década de batallas armadas y se preparaba, con dificultad, para entrar en las negociaciones nacionales posrevolucionarias, para disfrutar la lectura del poema “Suave Septtembre”, que Gerardo Arana incluyó en su libro Bulgaria Mexicalli de 2011.1 Tampoco es un requisito haber leído “Septiembre”, uno de los mayores logros de la poesía épica y expresionista que distinguió al búlgaro Georghi Milev, un poema con el que exploró la Revolución Agraria de 1923 que le costó su libertad y, eventualmente, la vida. Es del todo posible confrontar los mapas imbricados de México y Bulgaria, los dibujos y el diseño cuidadoso de cada página, el uso de diálogo y el espacio en blanco, los caligramas, así como las citas explícitas de esa tradición de poesía rebelde y plebeya que Arana insiste en rescatar en su propio recorrido sin haber leído ni a López Velarde ni a Milev. 
Y, sin embargo, el poema se presenta desde un inicio como un remix libre “de la Suave Patria de Ramón López Velarde y Septiembre de Milev (traducción: Pedro de Oráa)”. Lejos de aparecer solo, rodeado del aura de lo que es único e irrepetible, el “Suave septtembre” de Arana aparece en inmediata e irreductible conexión con dos poemas más—dos textos, además, fundacionales en sus propias tradiciones y geografías. El poema se anuncia, también, como un remix, una forma de re-escritura desapropiativa que se emparenta así con los quehaceres de la música, donde estas prácticas de sampleo tienen una historia ya bastante larga con claros arraigos populares. Y, finalmente, hay un traductor involucrado, lo cual crea una mediación adicional a las ya existentes en el poema. 
Es posible, luego entonces, leer el poema publicado en 2011 sin haber leído a sus pares de 1921 y 1924, pero no es posible hacerlo sin estar al tanto de su origen plural e interdisciplinario, sin saber desde un inicio que este poema se finca, explícitamente, sobre dos más. Arana mismo eligió este verbo, fincar, para abrir el poema, ubicándolo de entrada sobre un territorio imbricado e inédito, pero específico. “Toda cosa sirve para escribir una casa, siempre que finques las bases del poema sobre la tierra firme”, advierte en la primera página, citando a Stoyanov, otro poeta búlgaro, justo debajo de la silueta de un México que acoge o abraza, ¿o cita?, los límites geográficos de Bulgaria. Esta advertencia, esta provocación que nos hace volver la vista al suelo y reconsiderar, al mismo tiempo, la configuración sociopolítica del orbe, no sólo inscribe al poema en tradiciones literarias que el libro mismo volverá evidentes, sino también, acaso sobre todo, lo ubica en una materialidad territorial de la que es obra y parte. 
En ese momento, este poema de Gerardo Arana, se convierte en una escritura geológica—menos por, o no únicamente por, los temas que explora, sino también, acaso sobretodo, por las estrategias escriturales que utiliza para aproximarse a ellos. Me refiero en específico a tres. Primeramente, hay en este Bulgaria Mexicalli un recorrido vertical que atraviesa capas y capas del lenguaje desapropiado—y así descubre que la profundidad es tiempo—como parte de una operación más amplia de lo que Kathryn Yusoff ha llamado des-sedimentación: ese proceso que cuestiona los mitos de origen, y la manera en que se cuentan, descubriendo la vida social de la geología—en tanto lenguaje y en tanto práctica de acumulación y racialización—y sus gramáticas de violencia.2 En segundo lugar, al poner atención en los elementos humanos y no-humanos de esta trayectoria, y al combinar los mundos de la geofísica con la tecnología, Arena también contribuye al mapeo crítico de la tierra en presente y, justo como lo predecía Jussi Parikka al considerar los efectos que la geología tendría en la manera en que contamos historias, aquí hay tanto palabras como materia semiótica a-significante: un registro maquínico cuyo objetivo no es la constitución subjetiva sino el capturar y activar aquellos elementos pre-subjetivos y pre-individuales—como los afectos, las emociones, las percepciones—que eventualmente podrían funcionar, o no, en la máquina semiótica capitalista.3 Finalmente, si como argumenta Sergio Villalobos Ruminott, la geología “interroga el impacto material de los cuerpos en su disposición sobre el territorio, para adivinar en ellos el secreto tatuaje que soberanía y acumulación escribe, heterográficamente, sobre la tierra”, este Bulgaria Mexicalli abre un espacio estético y ético para “des-enterrar los secretos de la acumulación y hacer posible la pregunta por la justicia”.4 Una escritura geológica es, luego entonces, una escritura desapropiativa en tanto que, de manera abierta, trabaja ética y estéticamente con los textos fuente de los que parte y en los que se finca, conminando a una lectura vertical que, al levantar capa tras capa de los materiales incluidos, des-sedimenta la aparente inmutabilidad del poder, abriendo campo para hacer la pregunta sobre la acumulación y la justicia. 


Ver artículo completo aquí: Literal

--crg

ESCRITURAS ONTRA EL PODER. FRONTERIZAS CON SUSANA CHAVEZ


Primero un taller se escritura creativa en Ciudad Juárez organizado por Hilda Sotelo y con el apoyo del Instituto municipal de las Mujeres. Ahí, intervenimos textos de la poeta y activista Susana Chávez, quien acuñó la frase #NiUnaMuertaMás. Más tarde, utilizando el risógrafo con el que el PhD en Escritura Creativa en Español de la Universidad de Houston ha creado la editorial independiente Canal Press, pues surgiendo este libro comunitario y combativo. Acompáñenos a su lectura y presentación este sábado 25 de mayo  a las 4:00  de la tarde en Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua. #FronterizasForever

El libro estará a la venta en la feria.

Otras actividades del viernes 24 de mayo:

18:00 Mesa de Escritoras de la Frontera Norte de México. Participan: Cristina Rivera Garza, Rosina Conde, Arminé Arjona, Elpidia García y Sylvia Aguilar-Zéleny. Modera: Hilda Sotelo 

20:00 Noches con la literatura. Cristina Rivera Garza Interlocutor: Willivaldo Delgadillo

--crg

Saturday, May 11, 2019

EL MAL DE LA TAIGA


Una nueva edición en español de El mal de la taiga, ahora con Random House!

--crg


Thursday, May 09, 2019

SHIRLEY JACKSON AWARD Nominees



Muy feliz con esta nominación de la traducción al inglés de El mal de la taiga a los Shirley Jackson Awards!

--crg

Wednesday, May 01, 2019

BETWEEN THE COVERS Interview

This conversation with David Naimon is about writing, translation, The Taiga Syndrome, politics, women’s voices, The Iliac Crest, writing in Spanish in the United States, teaching, cross-genre, launching the first PhD with a concentration in Creating Writing in Spanish, Juan Rulfo, second-languagness, speculative fiction, translating Fred Moten and Don Mee Choi, taking the streets, and more. Here you have it:

https://tinhouse.com/podcast/cristina-rivera-garza-the-taiga-syndrome/

—crg 

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

PEDAGOGIES OF ART AND VIOLENCE IN THE AMERICAS NYU


PEDAGOGIES OF ART AND VIOLENCE IN THE AMERICAS
Thursday & Friday, April 25 and 26th, 2019
King Juan Carlos I of Spain Center, NYU

This two-day symposium analyzes the possibilities and limits of critical practices
emanating from the university. How do universities reach out to address the social
urgencies of today beyond the classroom walls? How might academics strive to work
with stigmatized and marginalized "others"; rather than "on" them? Critical thinking emerges when spaces that have long been separated—the University and Prison, as but one example—create a friction that changes and re-signifies disciplinary knowledge and it's practices within the university and within prisons. Artistic, pedagogical and juridical critical practices are at the core of this friction. Symposium participants from the Global South analyze how the critical university (public and private) intervenes not only in prisons, but in other state institutions.

THURSDAY, APRIL 25TH  | 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM

7:00 PM
Welcome and Presentation
Marisa Belausteguigoitia, Spring 2019 Andrés Bello Chair in Latin American Cultures and
Civilizations, New York University (NYU)

7:15 PM
Opening Keynote
Writing in Dissent: Social Suffering, Communality, and the Ethics of Care
Cristina Rivera Garza, University of Houston

FRIDAY APRIL 26TH | 11:00 AM - 7:00 PM

11:00 AM - 1:00 PM
Translucent Strategies and Dissent: Maneuvers for Access to Justice
Michael Coyle, California State University, Chico
Susana Draper, Princeton University
Haizea Barcenilla, Universidad del País Vasco
Moderator: Marisa Belausteguigoitia, New York University (NYU)

3:00 PM - 5:00 PM
Prison Borders: Activation of Love and Other Artifacts
Estibaliz de Miguel Calvo, Universidad del País Vasco
Maite Zubiaurre, University of California, Los Angeles
Moderator: María Josefina Saldaña-Portillo, New York University (NYU)

6:00 PM
Closing Keynote
Maneuvering Absence: The Artistic Practice as “Space of Appearance”
Rian Lozano, Universidad Autónoma de México (UNAM)

--crg

EL FIN DEL SILENCIO DE LAS MUJERES. Crónica desde un futuro posible


En el futuro recordaremos esos días de finales de marzo como los días que sacudieron nuestros mundos. Estábamos llenas de dolor y de rabia, diremos. Estábamos, también, llenas de esperanza. Éramos, en esos días, una furibunda vocación por la verdad. Nuestras voces atravesaban el aire y caían, redondas y firmes, en oídos ajenos. Nuestras palabras, fervientes, mal comportadas, heridas de muerte, sobrevivientes a todo, se levantaban frente a los ojos de los demás. No es que todo hubiera estado en calma antes, pero a las voces que ya se levantaban entonces, se le sumaron las de las mujeres en las áreas de la cultura y el arte, pronunciándose juntas. Todo en esos días se volvía nuestro porque era fácil decir estoy aquí, sé de lo que se trata. Nuestras historias, revueltas. Nuestras voces, a la par. Era tan difícil distinguir entre lo propio y lo de todas, diremos con esa gran sonrisa en la boca que da la comunidad.
Habíamos vivido décadas ya bajo el espantoso molar del feminicidio. Nuestras madres morían, morían nuestras hermanas, nuestras primas, nuestras vecinas, incluso nuestras enemigas morían. Morían todas; no dejaban de morir. Nos acostumbramos a mirarnos con los ojos apesadumbrados de las supervivientes: escribimos ensayos, nos unimos a grupos de acción, incluimos a más mujeres en los programas de estudio en nuestros salones de clase, alzamos la voz en muchas marchas. Pero ahí estaban, a todos lados nos seguían, esas cifras siempre en aumento. Tres mujeres al día. Seis mujeres al día. Nueve mujeres al día. En enero de 2019, 10 mujeres fueron asesinadas al día México. Era imposible no preguntarse cuándo me tocará mí. Cuándo te tocará a ti, que me miras, que estás a mi lado. ¿Cuándo nos matarán?
Cuando imperaba lar regla del silencio, esas muertes parecían irrupciones más o menos anómalas en un mundo inexplicable o irremediablemente violento. Las historias que encontraron acogida en el #MeToo mexicano trajeron a colación y pusieron en evidencia al eslabón que va de la violencia cotidiana al crimen espectacular. Todas las violencias cuentan. Hay solo un paso, y no un salto cuántico, entre el maltrato doméstico, la desigualdad laboral, el hostigamiento cotidiano, el acoso sexual, la mortificación económica, el ninguneo cultural, la falta de oportunidades, y el asesinato de cientos de miles de mujeres en México y en el mundo entero. 
¿Conocíamos esas historias? Claro que sí, a veces de oídas, a veces en carne propia. Por si hubiera hecho falta rondaban por ahí los relatos de #MiPrimerAcoso y #RopaSucia, iniciativas de activismo digital que recogieron historias de mujeres en las redes. ¿Estaban al tanto los demás? Claro que sí, a veces de oídas, a veces en carne propia. Y, más allá de las pantallas, estaban los tantos grupos de acompañamiento, las madres de las desaparecidas, la Marea Verde, las que habían dicho Ni Una Más, para recordárnoslo. De ese modo, amplificando voces y extendiendo ecos de otros gritos, todas esas historias vestidas de sonido y de letra, con nombres propios e impropios en la plaza de lo público, incluido twitter, cobraron un peso que en mucho se pareció al espanto. También eso éramos, diremos en el futuro inclinando la cabeza, deseando incluso entonces que no hubiera sido real. Se trataba de un mundo fraguado con base en el silencio de las mujeres. Era un mundo que requería del silencio más íntimo de las mujeres, ahí donde son heridas de muerte, para seguir funcionando. 
Y entonces pasó, diremos. 
Una mujer empezó a hablar, y le siguió otra, y a ésta le siguió otra, y otra más. Eran muy jóvenes, contaremos, pero sus historias se parecían a las que venían de tanto tiempo atrás, como si todo hubiera empeorado con el tiempo. Lo supimos de inmediato: a eso no lo detendría nadie ni nadie lo controlaría. Desbordar. Rebasar. Desbocarse. Eso es un movimiento social. Nadie participa en una revuelta alzando la mano y esperando su turno para hablar. Lo que sale a la luz es humano y aterrador. Diremos, recordando ese poema de Ilya Kaminski que habíamos escuchado en vivo en un salón o un almacén lleno de gente deseando su traducción inmediata, su proliferación, sí, nosotros también habíamos vivido felizmente durante la guerra. Y cuando bombardearon las casas de los otros, nosotros/ protestamos/ pero no lo suficiente, nos opusimos pero no/ lo suficiente. Yo estaba/ en mi cama, y alrededor de la cama México/ estaba cayendo: una casa invisible tras otra casa invisible tras otra casa invisible./ Moví una silla afuera y observé el sol./ En el sexto mes/ del insufrible reino de la casa del dinero/ en la calle del dinero en la ciudad del dinero en el país del dinero,/ en nuestro gran país del dinero, nosotros (perdónennos)/ vivimos felizmente durante la guerra.
Llevábamos años sin querer la guerra, pero a donde quiera que volteábamos allí estaba la guerra, con sus fosas comunes. Con nuestros desaparecidos. Y con su dinero, sí. Con eso también. Pero ya no queríamos vivir felizmente durante la guerra. Íbamos juntas, y marchando también cada quien por su lado, en distintas agrupaciones y manadas, en contra de esa falsa felicidad de la guerra. Algunos lo reconocieron, y pidieron perdón; otros se asustaron. Otros guardaron silencio. Y entonces, entre el dolor y la ansiedad, entre el fervor y la agitación, amaneció abril y Armando Vega Gil, el músico de Botellita de Jerez, la banda con las que muchos a finales del siglo XX aprendimos la irreverencia y el desparpajo, se quitó la vida después de leer un señalamiento por acoso en @MeTooMúsicamx. Habremos de decirlo con profunda consternación, con un dolor compartido. En el futuro, haremos una pausa, y recordaremos sus palabras: “Es correcto que las mujeres alcen la voz para hacer que nuestro mundo podrido cambie”. 
Y entonces, justo entonces, a inicios del mes más cruel, se volvió todavía más importante la voz, la presencia, el reclamo de justicia. Eso diremos. Todos habíamos perdido tanto con el silencio de las mujeres. Y si algunas se fueron apaleadas de regreso al silencio, y otras se aferraron incluso más a los modos autoritarios y violentos de la guerra, estuvieron también las que nos conminaron a continuar, con datos duros, con empatía radical, con la ética del cuidado como bandera. Hubo lágrimas al interior del movimiento y asambleas, contaremos. Hubo disenso. Hubo perplejidad. Y largas horas de contemplación. Y mucho trabajo, horas de diálogo e investigación, jornadas enteras intercambiando datos o discutiendo estrategias. Hubo manos abiertas. Y esta energía desatada, viva, plural, gracias a la cual logramos seguir vivas y alcanzar este futuro—en el que las leyes que garantizan un mundo sin violencia para las mujeres se ejecutan, los protocolos de lugares de trabajo libres de acoso se respetan, niños y niñas tienen igual acceso a la educación, hombres y mujeres reciben igual retribución salarial, y en el que no morimos ya, seis o nueve o diez de nosotras al día—que ahora todavía depende de lo que hagamos hoy. No es un mundo más cómodo, pero sí uno en que todo es discutido de nueva cuenta, al amparo de todos los ojos, todos los cuerpos, porque a todos nos afecta. Ese mundo, este futuro posible, requiere de todas nuestras inteligencias, saberes, ternuras, desacuerdos, asombros. Requiere de ti y de mí. Ahora. Aquí. Porque #NiUnaMás para la muerte, pero #NiUnaMenos para la plenitud de seguir vivas.
 Artículo completo aquí: Literal Magazine 
--crg

Monday, January 07, 2019

Thursday, December 06, 2018

THE TAIGA SYNDROME--VOL. 1 Brooklyn

Gabino Iglesias wrote "Detection, Memory, and the Uncanny of Cristina Rivera Garza´s The Taiga Syndrome," for Vol.1 Brooklyn
There are books that get so close to being sublime that plot becomes almost irrelevant. Cristina Rivera Garza’s The Taiga Sydrome has a plot, but it’s exploration of memory, the way it uses language to communicate the ethereal, and the dreamy atmosphere punctuated by scenes of longing, investigation of a mystery, and brutality eventually overpower everything else and push the narrative into a realm where plot isn’t always the most crucial element.
The Taiga Syndrome is a short novel that follows an unnamed female ex-detective who heads to the Taiga in search of a couple who escaped there. She goes there because a betrayed husband is convinced his second ex-wife wants him to track her down for some reason. The ex-detective gets a translator and heads into the cold, unforgiving forest to find start her mission. Instead of snow and trees, what she finds in her quest are a plethora of strange things, situations, stories, and people. Furthermore, there is a lot of information that is lost, (re)shaped, and transformed in translation, so she is never entirely sure of some things. To make matters worse, her mission is haunted by classic stories like Little Red riding Hood and Hansel and Gretel. As the ex-detective moves forward with her quest with a keen eye and taking notes, there is something in every bizarre experience that turns the lessons she’s receiving into psychological and emotional experiences that show her a new truth: sometimes leaving everything behind and jumping into an uncertain future in a faraway place is, more than the best choice, the only option.
The writing in The Taiga Syndrome is stunning. Rivera Garza walks a fine line between the dreamy language of fairytales, the bluntness and economy of language of crime fiction, and something else, something ineffable that is entirely hers. This mix of styles, which work incredibly well together, and the book’s short chapters keep the narrative moving forward at all times. Also, there are many things hiding in the story. For example, there is an exploration of memory, of the way we see things after things have been seen, that is a treat for careful readers. Then there is the deconstruction of crime fiction wrapped in a short discourse about surviving an investigation:
That, with time, I had become accustomed to the hollow moments of an investigation is true. There are hours, days even, sometimes months or years when nothing happens: Those are the gaps in an investigation. In other words, those moments are life. The detective who wins a case, who solves it, is usually the one who weathers those lapses. Resources are needed, of course. But above all, you need patience, that rare gift; or you need something else to think about—a certain capacity for distraction. You need a place inside the self, your own language where you can hide. You need a refuge, yes. Any refuge.
The deceptively simple plot here, as mentioned above, takes a backseat to the driving forces that make The Taiga Syndrome a unique reading experience. More than entertainment and walking readers to the resolution of a case, Rivera Garza is concerned with showing how memory acts inside us, how bluntness, mystery, and nature can inhabit the same space as eerie visions, uncertainty, miscommunication, and enchanted language. Lastly, this is a narrative that pushes against the truths at the core of recollection: almost nothing is exactly what is remembered. This revelation comes in many forms, and other people is just one of them (filtered, again, through translation):
How the woman had vomited. On the bed, beside the man’s body. How, from that vomit, from that jumble of bones and saliva and bile, from that truly nauseating smell, from that unbearable substance, those things had appeared. Those things the boy had drawn later, much later, at the request of the translator. On a sunny morning. A spectacular morning.
This novella accomplishes a lot in 128 pages. It’s enigmatic and somewhat creepy, but also as lyrical as a poem and full of a kind of slight surrealism that brings to mind classic fairytales. That said, perhaps the books biggest accomplishment is that is teases readers even beyond the last page. This is a satisfying read, but also one that leaves readers wanting more…and wondering if they are right about the conclusions, wondering if their ideas are correct in a world where language is a shifting animal and exile is at once punishment and paradise. If you like your literature unnerving and sprinkled with the strangest kind of magic, don’t miss this one.


See full article here

--crg

Saturday, December 01, 2018

THE TAIGA SYNDROME--Mystery Scene Magazine

Robert Allen Papinchak wrote about The Taiga Syndrome for Mystery Scene Magazine:

If Paul Auster (The New York Trilogy) and Angela Carter (The Bloody Chamber) had a fictional child with the poetic vision of Anne Sexton (Transformations) it would be Cristina Rivera Garza’s remarkable, metaphysical detective novel, The Taiga Syndrome.
Aside from Earth’s oceans, the Taiga, a subarctic snow forest of birch, firs, and cedars, is the largest biome community on the planet. What if Hansel and Gretel met the Big Bad Wolf in those deep, dark woods?
That’s the existential premise of Garza’s fairy-tale-inspired search that blurs the boundaries of reality and fantasy, and it is where the unnamed detective narrator finds herself when she takes on the riddle of “the case of the mad couple of the Taiga.” In the story told over 22 brief (some as short as two pages), evocative chapters, the detective is hired by a man to find his second wife, who has run off with another man.
Her search begins when the detective, accompanied by a translator guide, wanders into the couple’s village, where she discovers a feral boy child outside their shack. Or is he a wolf? What follows are references to François Truffaut’s 1970 film L’Enfant Sauvage (a “peculiar romance ...established between the feral child...and the spectator”), as well as nods to “Little Red Riding Hood” and the aforementioned “Hansel and Gretel.”
The novel takes its title from an alleged disease that strikes the inhabitants of the Taiga, causing one to “suffer terrible anxiety attacks and make suicidal attempts to escape.” As the detective and the translator follow the crumbs of their investigation deeper into the Taiga, they find themselves in an alternate, surreal cosmos. Before the narrator’s trek into the tundra is over, readers will wonder if she, too, won’t succumb to The Taiga Syndrome’s fevered dream.
The Taiga Syndrome is a stunning philosophical meditation that transcends the standard detective story. As Rivera Garza writes, this is a “story about being in love,” admittedly a very strange love, as well as falling out of it. It is a postmodern fable as if written by Mary Shelley and The Brothers Grimm. It is an extraordinary novel that will get under your skin and make it crawl.
Read full article here. 

--crg

Saturday, October 13, 2018

THE TAIGA SYNDROME--Los Angeles Review of Books

IF ONE IS LOOKING for works that embody the seismic shifts in Mexican literature’s aesthetics and styles in the 21st century, Cristina Rivera Garza’s boldly experimental books are the place to start. She began publishing in the mid-1980s, and her early works of short fiction and poetry garnered her some attention and awards, but her true irruption in the literary world took place with the publication of Nadie me verá llorar (No One Will See Me Cry, 1999), perhaps one of the last great books of the 20th century in Latin America. Winner of the José Rubén Romero National Book Award, the highest national prize for an unpublished novel, Nadie me verá llorar is a daring intervention in the genre of Mexican historical fiction.
In a time when Mexican women writers were able to take over a chunk of the editorial market with wildly successful historical romances (English-language readers will probably remember Laura Esquivel’s blockbuster novel Like Water for Chocolate, published in 1989), Rivera Garza told the story of a woman institutionalized in the infamous mental hospital of La Castañeda and of the photographer obsessed with her. She did this through a narrative devoid of syrupy sentimentality — what women-centered historical fiction was supposed to be in the literary markets of the 1990s. Instead, she was informed by Michel Foucault’s and Gilles Deleuze’s theories on madness, as well as by feminist theories of the bond between medicalization and gender. The book turned Rivera Garza into a widely read and admired writer, as well as into a cult figure in Mexican literary circles.
Unfortunately, the English translation of the book, published in 2003, did not capitalize on the excitement elicited by the Spanish original (we can only hope a revised or new translation of this most important book will be reissued now that Rivera Garza has become more of a household name). Rivera Garza’s work gained great acclaim in Spanish and became the subject of scholarly study, but no other English translations were published until late 2017, when the Feminist Press released Sarah Booker’s rendering of The Iliac Crest, Rivera Garza’s 2002 experimental novel around cult Mexican writer Amparo Dávila. In departing from the historical scenarios of her first novel, The Iliac Crest then showed another step in Rivera Garza’s evolution, which placed her closer to the canon of Mexican literature, and into the territory she would eventually develop, that of gendered experimental fiction.
Rivera Garza’s work seems to be coming into English translation in full force, finally catching up with her long intellectual relationship with the United States. Born in the border city of Matamoros, Tamaulipas, next to Brownsville, Texas, Rivera Garza has a PhD in history at the University of Houston; her dissertation was the departure point of both Nadie me verá llorarand the historical nonfiction book La Castañeda, on Mexico’s most infamous mental hospital. After a few years at the University of California, San Diego, she is now a professor of Hispanic Studies at the University of Houston, where she has been spearheading the first PhD program in creative writing in Spanish — a project with significant cultural and political ramifications in the current political and cultural climate. She is also the translator into Spanish of Vanessa Place and Robert Fitterman’s Notes on Conceptualisms, a book that has had a significant following in younger Mexican poets, and, more recently, Fred Moten and Stefano Harney’s The Undercommons, which is close to her work on communality and culture, developed in Los muertos indóciles. Necroescrituras y desapropiación (The Unquiet Dead. Necrowriting and Disappropriation, 2013), a theoretical book that connects conceptualist writing in the United States with the communalist theories of indigenous thinker Floriberto Díaz, Antoine Volodine’s work on post-exoticism, and the work of David Markson. Indeed, one of the reasons why Rivera Garza has one of the most intensively theoretical frameworks in Mexican literature today comes from the fact that she has been able to develop her place in the US academy as a way to resist Mexican cultural conservatism, while her place in Mexican literature inoculates her from the vices of US academic discourse.
Read full article by Ignacio Sánchez Prado here
--crg

Friday, October 05, 2018

THE TAIGA SYNDROME--Minor Literatures


THE DISTANT NEVER SO CLOSE
While her previously translated works (The Iliac Crest and No one Will See Me Cry) are grounded in the politics and history of her native Mexico, Cristina Rivera Garza’s The Taiga Syndrome offers a timeless, “boreal” fairy tale. Its inchoate eroticism and arch asides evoke authors as disparate as Amelia Gray and Halldór Laxness; Herbert Marcuse and Helen Oyeyemi; Anna Kavan and Donald Barthelme; (Lars von Trier and Walt Disney)—but Rivera Garza’s fabular elements create a singularly inclement climate.
Unto this arctic clime (the Taiga) comes a nameless “writer of noir novellas,” dispatched as envoy of a deserted husband. A reluctant emissary, our author/detective narrator (à la Auster) must track down her client’s “second wife,” with the help of a taciturn translator and fellow “outsider.” (The excluded figure prominently in Rivera Garza’s work.) As they puzzle over laconic leads (cryptic telegrams, elliptic testimony), they are alternately engaged and cold-shouldered by the inhabitants of that wintry wasteland.
The obscure object of their investigation rapidly evolves on this short trek (119 pages) through a frozen forest primeval. Their primary clue is a mysterious telegram, which has piqued the narrator’s “all-consuming weakness for forms of writing no longer in use” and drawn her into the fray. Further clues are ferreted from the journal of “the second wife,” as writing reveals itself as such. Rivera Garza has here nested narratives (her modus operandi) and the telling of tales takes center stage, though we are warned,
Nothing happens as it is written. 
Read Steven Felicelli´s full review here.

--crg

THE TAIGA SYNDROME--Tor.com


1. how does any story work
Wood, snow, blood: old stories. The witch in the forest, the breadcrumb trail, the grandmother-skinned wolf—everybody’s here, in this wild little book, breath steaming humid in the cold air. The taiga is the sometimes swampy coniferous forest of the high northern latitudes. A person has gone there with her lover to become lost. Or perhaps she has gone there to find something else.
2. suicide
Our narrator is a writer, a failure, and a detective. She is hired by a man whose Adam’s apple she cannot fail to notice to find a woman who loves someone other than him, or who has run away to the taiga with someone other than him, which, to him, is the same thing, but may not be the same thing to us. The circumstances of her own disappearance may not be of interest to the disappeared. She is the protagonist of a different story than the one the man seeking her has told.
“It seems,” he tells our narrator, “that certain inhabitants of the taiga begin to suffer terrible anxiety attacks and make suicidal attempts to escape.” This is a phenomenon long documented in the Arctic. Ishavet kaller, writes the painter Christiane Ritter, who spent the winter of 1934-1935 with her trapper-husband on the island of Spitsbergen, in the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard: “Ishavet kaller: This is what the Spitsbergen hunters say when one of their comrades, for mysterious reasons of his own, throws himself into the sea.” Maybe he can no longer stand the endless darkness of the polar night. Maybe he can no longer bear the inhuman grandeur of its beauty. A fairytale kind of death, if you think about it. Or a manner of haunting.
The woman our narrator has been tasked with detecting, the woman who has escaped, or run away, or agreed to her own absence, documents her flight, leaves our narrator an analog trail: telegrams, letters, maps. If we are lost to other people but not to ourselves, what constitutes our geography? If the terrain is unknown are we missing? Or are we merely unwilling to be found?
6. solastalgia
is the name of a specific kind of grief, the distress produced by the effects of climate change on a place that has long supported a community. It is a form of mourning that particularly affects indigenous peoples who depend on subsistence activities for their survival, although it is a loss that can splinter its way into anybody’s heart.
“Above all,” our narrator says, “I remember I used to exhale… in front of the glass, and write with the tip of my index finger the words ‘I am leaving here’ and ‘I will never return.’”
7. “We all carry a forest inside us, yes,”
our narrator says. The wilderness to which we are returning. The long way to becoming missing.
We go to a place we imagined as foreign, and find instead that we are home.

Read Sarah McCarry´s full review here

--crg

THE TAIGA SYNDROME--Arkansas International


The resultant investigation is both bright light and shadow, a slow tightrope walk towards the cold, coniferous Taiga and its cache of strange secrets. Rivera Garza maintains resistance to the traditional fable. Routinely her detective-narrator breaks the spell of her story, reminding us of the act of her telling, through commentary on her word choice (“‘Breathlessly,’” she notes, “is an adverb with rhythm”) and the presence of a literal translator accompanying her through the forest. In their breadth and variety, Rivera Garza’s words—wonderfully translated by Suzanne Jill Levine and Aviva Kana— also resist fable. In the space of a single short chapter, the author moves from delicate and beautiful (“The booming of the sky made me tremble. The wing beats of birds with no names, that couldn’t have names. The violently clashing branches”) to strictly anatomical language (“The masculine hand on the lower edge of her jaw. Below, the submandibular glands, the submental ganglia. Underneath, the veins and facial arteries and stylohyoid muscles. . .” ) proving her’s is a book of raw nerves, exposed skin, but also hardness: sinew and bone. For the detective-narrator—and, indeed for us readers—Rivera Garza’s pages are these things and more. What she has created here is a diary of longing, anxiety, trauma; a record of the tension between our deepest, most personal forests and the ways that we choose to preserve them.

Read Elizabeth DeMeo´s full review here.

--crg

THE TAIGA SYNDROME--Ploughshares


The language of the edition I read is most directly the work of Suzanne Jill Levine and Aviva Kana, who produced this first translation from the Spanish (and only the third English translation of Garza’s seven novels). Translation itself is a major theme of the book. Even after the narrator finds her translator, “tongue to tongue: a speaker of their tongue who would translate everything into my tongue,” Garza describes most events as coming through filters—through speaking, writing, or gesture. But Levine and Kana’s fantastic language is surprising, highly stylized and very, very precise. The repetition of phrases (“I remember…above all I remember,” “I told the truth”) in sections separated by many pages act as a series of bells, training readers to remember, to believe, and to fear on Garza’s terms.
This repetition brings us to what drew me to The Taiga Syndrome in the first place, which is its surprising use of fairy tales. Two are named explicitly: Little Red Riding Hood and Hansel and Gretel. Garza alludes to these two tales with the plot—a telegram breadcrumb trail, a literal wolf at the door—and she also includes interludes on the stories’ academic interpretations. But her reference comes in a more foundational form as well, in her application of certain stylistic techniques common to all fairy tales. Scholars like Kate Bernheimer and Max Luthi list these techniques differently but usually agree on three: rigidly repetitive language (such as the use of “once upon a time” or something similar), special logic or normalized magic (nobody bats an eye when Sleeping Beauty pricks her finger and falls asleep), and maybe most importantly here, a flatness of character (a preference for the archetype over the psychologically realistic).
I’ve described Garza’s repetitive language, but she deploys these other techniques, too. Special logic is used to terrifying effect in a few scenes I won’t give away here, but which have caused at least one reviewer to (rightly) call the book Lynchian. The archetypal nature of the characters—“the detective,” “the translator,” “the man with two wives”—is particularly central. The characters’ flatness is not complete, as it would be in a true fairy tale, because the characters’ thoughts and actions do imply complex motivations and deep emotional lives. But it’s this tension between archetype and reality that leads us to the true heart of the narrator’s struggle: “The desire between one thing and another. The desire of bodies and, at the same time, the desire to narrate bodies.” Some writers who invoke fairy tale do it for the trance-like rhythm and rich symbolism, some do it for the thrill of recognizing an old story retold, for the sheer necromancy of it. But the best authors use it to talk about story itself. They do it because they are obsessed with what we’re really doing when we draw a narrative frame and call something a story. This is exactly what is happening in The Taiga Syndrome.
Read Amelia Brown´s full review here.

--crg

Monday, September 24, 2018

WORKSHOP SERIES FALL 2018


No se la pierdan por nada del mundo.
Habrá streaming (pero inscríbanse para mandar materiales).

--crg

Monday, September 10, 2018

WORKSHOP SERIES FALL 2018


No se la pierdan. Aquí, en UH, como parte de la Workshop Series Fall 2018, del PhD en Estudios Hispánicos con concentración en Escritura Creativa en Español (ECE).

--crg

Thursday, September 06, 2018

Monday, August 20, 2018

THE TAIGA SYNDROME--Publishers Weekly´s starred review


Rivera Garza’s extraordinary, incantatory novel (following The Iliac Crest) is short but stunning, following a semi-retired detective on the trail of her client’s second ex-wife, who abandoned him for a younger man. Intermittent communications from the couple place them last at the Taiga, an immense, faraway, and largely inhospitable forest province that borders the tundra. People disappear from the Taiga at such a frequency that the phenomenon has a name—the Taiga Syndrome. The detective arrives at the Taiga village from where her client’s ex-wife last sent a telegram, bringing along a translator for help. Though she privately suspects she’s there on a wild goose chase, the detective nonetheless faithfully records all that she comes across, including unsettling interviews with little boys and stories of a wolf cub who seemed to take an interest in the ex-wife and her lover. “Hansel and Gretel” and “Little Red Riding Hood” are explicitly referenced throughout the book—the original, darker versions, of course. And there are some truly chilling aspects of the novel, including what the aforementioned little boy confesses he witnessed and a feral child the Taiga lumberjacks find in the forest. In the climax, the detective plunges deep into the Taiga in search of the ex-wife, and discovers where love must go before it can finally be considered over. As lyrical as a poem (“Look at this: your knees. They are used for kneeling upon reality, also for crawling, terrified. You use them to sit on a lotus flower and say goodbye to the immensity”) and as fantastic as a fairy tale, Rivera Garza’s gorgeous, propulsive novel will haunt readers long after it’s finished.

Full article here

--crg
--crg

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

THE TAIGA SYNDROME--Kirkus´ starred review



A detective travels to the heart of a mysterious snow forest in this existential mystery about desire, hauntings, and the failure of language.
When the unnamed narrator of Mexican author Rivera Garza’s (The Iliac Crest, 2017, etc.) gothic noir accepts the case of a missing couple, she feels haunted by all the cases she has failed to solve. “The case of the woman who disappeared behind a whirlwind. The case of the castrated men. The case of the woman who gave her hand, literally,” she thinks. Intrigued and alarmed by her client's tragic description of the Taiga Syndrome, in which “inhabitants of the Taiga begin to suffer terrible anxiety attacks and make suicidal attempts to escape,” she sets off with a translator to follow in the missing couple’s footsteps. When they arrive at the village where the couple was last seen, they’re brought to “a hovel...a habitable structure made from wood, cardboard, and lots of dry branches.” Here, the boundaries between prose and poetry, reality and myth—both already tenuous—begin to blur even further. A wolf spied waiting outside the couple’s cabin door might have been a wild boy captured by passing lumberjacks. A miscarriage witnessed by a village child might be the origin story of “two miniature creatures” used in a bawdy bordello show. The miniature creatures might, after all, be real. If haunting is a kind of repetition, the narrator and her translator begin their own ghost story, following in the footsteps of the couple before them, falling in love—if only briefly. This novel, in a translation by Levine and Kana, is taught, lyrical, and strange, and it fits right in with Dorothy, A Publishing Project’s commitment to work that challenges what genres and forms can do. Like the best speculative fiction, it follows the sinuous paths of its own logic but gives the reader plenty of room to play. Fans of fairy tales and detective stories, Kathryn Davis and Idra Novey, will all find something to love.
An eerie, slippery gem of a book.

Link here

--crg

THE TAIGA SYNDROME--@The_Millions



coverThe Taiga Syndrome by Cristina Rivera Garza (translated by Suzanne Jill Levine and Aviva Kana): Marguerite DurasClarice LispectorJuan Rulfo—comparisons to each have been made with regard to Cristina Rivera Garza’s novels, which are uncanny and unique, often exploring and crossing and investigating borders, including but not limited to “geopolitical borders and conceptual borders, borders of gender and genre, borders between life and death.” Rivera Garza has spent her life crossing borders, too. Born in Mexico, she lived between San Diego and Tijuana for a long while, and she now directs the first bilingual creative writing Ph.D. program at the University of Houston. The Taiga Syndrome is Rivera Garza’s second novel to be translated to English, a book which Daniel Borzutzky likens to “Apocalypse Now fused with the worlds of Clarice Lispector and Jorge Luis Borges.” Yowza. (Anne)

See "Most Anticipated: The Great Second-Half 2018 Book Preview" here

--crg