Books that 2020 left

We are days away from closing a year of greater challenges for many, in which we had to adapt to the new reality. It is possible that fewer editions have been published due to the pandemic than in other times; however, the books circulated despite the confinement. We were digital readers or, physically, by leaps and bounds, attentive to the reopening of bookstores and other cultural circuits (as far as possible).

Among the books that this 2020 left us and that, surely, will occupy a special place in various libraries or electronic devices, is this quintet that includes: short story, poetry and essay. They have in common that they were written by women and that each one has a solid proposal that makes them unique. If someone asks about the novel, this was not a year of considerable harvests.

Vindictions. Latin American storytellers. UNAM / Foam Pages. México, 2020. As part of the UNAM editorial project and its purpose of restoring the voice of the authors who were buried in oblivion, is the Vindictas collection. Socorro Venegas and Juan Casamayor are the editors that bring together these narrators from different latitudes of the American continent. It is an exceptional anthology of short story writers, because they had the support of prominent women who know the authors who were relegated and whose work is no longer available for various reasons. Who are those storytellers who are rescued? There will be those who do not know them and others who locate them due to literary synergies. They are María Luisa Puga (Mexico), Marvel Moreno (Colombia), Armonía Somers (Uruguay), María Luisa Elío (Spain), Mirta Yáñez (Cuba), Rosario Ferré (Puerto Rico), Marta Brunet (Chile), María Luisa de Luján Campos (Argentina) and Mercedes Gordillo (Nicaragua), to name a few. The editor of Pages of Foam Juan Casamayor recognizes that the book does not come to occupy a place in literature but that “it is a sign to follow […] a cry that appeals to that search and reading effort; It is an open window and I hope it is read as such ”. The stories show the writers’ sensitivity when addressing issues related to their own bodies.

Complete stories. Clarice Lispector. Compiled by Benjamin Moser FCE. Mexico, 2020. December brought with it the centenary of Clarice Lispector and the Fondo de Cultura Económica did a great job editing this volume. As Foucault refers, the publication of the complete works of an author is the usual link in the consecration processes of a writer. In the case of Lispector, the novels are published in Alfaguara and Siruela, and Moser’s commendable biography of the Brazilian narrator also circulates. The complete stories translated into Spanish were missing, a task that was in charge of Paula Abramo. Lispector’s prose that we read in these pages ranges from his first narrations to the stories that are closer to a short, intense essay, and that at some point Moser located as paratexts.

Nigra line. Jazmina Barrera. Raft. Mexico, 2020. Continuing with the exploration of the body, comes this book that is a delight. Inscribed in the best tradition of the English-style essay, it is a blog about pregnancy, childbirth and the act of breastfeeding a baby. What stands out here is the comparison that Barrera establishes: she is in a state of pregnancy and, at the same time, creates a book. And it makes a recount of the narrators, seen as creators of characters and who also went through motherhood processes as daughters or mothers: Mary Shelley, Úrsula K. Le Guin, Margaret Atwood, Virginia Woolf and Alice Munro, among others. Motherhood is a box of chiaroscuro, disturbing, revealing of many meanings and responses. The best thing about the book is when Barrera establishes connections and brotherhoods, supported by books and history. It is all a work of literary and philosophical introspection.

The realm of the non-linear. Elisa Díaz Castelo. Aguascalientes 2020 Fine Arts Poetry Award. Culture / INBAL / FCE. A long time ago a book of poetry did not generate as many favorable opinions as it happens with this edition. Exploration, introspection, reflection and a command of the language. What is life and death? It is a question that is answered in many ways. Unlike other collections of poems, it is a book with very defined axes. The first part corresponds to the “Vuelta” section, made up of ten stories of encounters with death and ten prose poems or some sort of definitions of what life represents. The second part of the book refers to the section “Ida”, which are actually seventeen monologues by Orfelia, a reflective character attentive to everyday life and the small but significant things that surround us. Memorable are “Orfelia reads Virgilio”, “Orfelia chooses fruit in the market” and “Orfelia raves with The Metaformosis”. A book that will continue to be talked about and that must be read with great attention. The Aguascalientes Award for Díez Costelo comes to remind us of the good state that Mexican poetry enjoys among the new generations.

Two-pointed star. Octavio Paz and Carlos Fuentes. Chronicle of a friendship. Malva Flowers. Ariel. Mexico, 2020. It is a journey through the encounters and disagreements that existed between two notable presences for Mexican letters. Malva Flores puts together a detailed historiography that starts from key moments for culture: book publications, trips, appointments, opinions, coincidences and key moments of international repercussion. Thanks to Flores’ tireless pen, we are witnesses of the backstage, what was not said in time, what was no longer recovered and is still important to understand those stages of coincidence and estrangement between Paz and Fuentes. What was done by the essayist comes to be a complement to assimilate more of the personality of both authors, apparently dissimilar, but there was a time when their friendship acquired fraternal overtones.

Let’s start 2021 in the best possible way, reading.


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