“If each generation thinks its own apocalypse, I belong to the one who is starring in climate terror,” said Uruguayan writer Fernanda Trías at the event to receive her award as winner of the Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz prize. An award that has been awarded since 1993 at the Guadalajara Book Fair and that recognizes the work of writers in the Spanish-speaking world, such as the Mexican Cristina Rivera Garza, the Colombian Laura Restrepo, or the Argentine Claudia Piñeiro. An award with the name of the “patron saint of writers,” as the Montevideo novelist called her.
Fernanda Trías wins this year the award for her novel Pink Dirt, published by Random House in late 2020, and that Trías finished the year before. What initially surprised readers and critics, when it was published, was how this novel managed to draw on its pages a scenario very similar to the one that the world experienced when the coronavirus infected the world in March of last year: characters confined to their homes by the government, who must go out with a mask to the streets, bombarded by false news about what is happening, and afraid of catching a mysterious pink wind in a port city.
“They have already called me a witch, they have already told me that I predicted the pandemic,” Trías said in his speech. But, as he explained, more than guessing the past, Trías found his literary scene not in the future, but rather in the present and in the past, and above all in the uncertainty and fear generated by the climate catastrophe that this world is experiencing. .
“A terror that takes shape at a diffuse point in time, after which there will be no return,” said Trías. “To avoid the worst, global carbon dioxide emissions would have to be reduced by 45% before 2030, and currently the commitments made by the different countries would only be enough to reduce them by 1%. Thus, it is estimated that in less than 80 years, 74% of the regions that today are inhabited by human beings will have become environments of lethal diseases, all data from the United Nations. From there to imagine the massive migrations, the refugee crisis, the food shortages, and the emptied cities, there is only one step ”.
Faced with this bleak scenario, the novel Pink Dirt He is not looking that far from the present. “The question then should not be why write a dystopia or climate science fiction, but how not to write it,” added Trías. The novel comes from understanding that human beings, in the era of the Anthropocene, are geological agents who have changed the atmosphere, the oceans, or the ecosystems, all because of “our desire to be gods.”
Unfortunately, neither a novel, nor seeing the tragedy of the coronavirus head-on, nor reading all the evidence on climate change, has put an end to that voracious desire to control everything. Are we at an end or a beginning? What do we think we’ll find when we get to the bone? When will we finish gnawing, by dint of consumption, the world’s resources? The Covid-19 pandemic seems to have made it clear that the great machine of production and consumption cannot be stopped “, he added,” perhaps I wanted to anticipate in this book the nostalgia for a world that we still believe we have, but that is already there. lost”
Fernanda Trías, born in 1976 in Montevideo, is a professor of creative writing at the Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá, Colombia, and also the author of three novels before the award-winning one now at FIL: Single-eye notebook, The Invincible City and The Roof. The latter, as in Pink Dirt, confines two characters to a house, an older man and his daughter, who, as the Chilean writer Andrea Jeftanovic explained at the award event, delves into the “fragility of the psyche, the confinement as a metaphor for human description”. In the confinement, the characters of Trías find their limits, and search their memory to try to ask themselves, in that claustrophobic space, what happens around the external world.
“Fear and confinement are two themes that I have been exploring since I started writing,” said Trías. “The outside as a threat, the other unknown, hostile, incomprehensible. In this novel I tried to go further in that same search: there is a forced confinement, there is a threatening outside, but it is the broken emotional ties that ultimately exacerbate the suffocation. Is the solution to go out and expose yourself to contamination? Be willing not to escape unscathed to discover what lies on the other side of fear? “
The writer finished the speech on the subject of literature written by women because, since Pink Dirt has been awarded and received good reviews, constantly receives the question in interviews about whether or not there is currently a boom Latin American female. “The question is insistent because it tries to find an answer in the wrong place,” Trías said. Women’s literature, which is perhaps only recently recognized from the history of literature, is as old as that of Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz. “Despite them, Latin American writers are asked daily to talk about ourselves, about the unprecedented, apparently unimaginable fact that a woman’s body writes and – oh surprise – it does it well,” said Trías. “Many of my colleagues and I have raised a voice of protest: we do not want to be taken out of one ghetto to another a little larger, a little more beautiful, and with better quality furniture. That is why today I did not want to ask permission to dedicate these 15 minutes of their attention, their microphones and their cameras to talk about what also belongs to us: the world in all its complexity ”.
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.