Motherhood is the true universal theme. It is, because in addition to being a biological process with which we are all related if we exist –being mothers, but also being daughters and sons–, it is an experience crossed by culture. It has been said that mothers do not write, that they are written. Also that motherhood has not been considered a literary theme at the height of wars or love. And this despite the fact that, as Elisa Martín Ortega, professor of literature at the Autonomous University of Madrid, said, motherhood is perhaps the experience that puts us most in contact with the limits of the human condition, with the deconstruction and construction of the identity, with the boundaries of the body and the differentiation of one’s own and others’ mental spaces. We are always ready to continue discovering titles and diverse voices that challenge us, or not. That excite us. Here we collect 10 books on motherhood, fatherhood and hijidad that demonstrate that the absence of motherhood as a literary point has been something as unfair as it is absurd. Because literature serves as a vehicle to tell what is small, which is actually what is important.
- Ropavieja (Editorial Dieci6): Ropavieja is a heartbreaking collection of poems about how difficult it is to face the disease when it transforms and takes away a loved one from us, in this case a mother swallowed by Dogface (the name by which the author refers to the disease). Its author, the Lanzarote illustrator Lana Neble, was barely 24 years old when she published Old clothes. The collection of poems, however, denotes a maturity that does not include dates of birth or identity documents; and it has a beauty that a server inevitably associates with that of Lanzarote: a beauty that is different and impossible to capture and explain that, like the animal and plant life that grows on the island against the current, in a hostile volcanic terrain, it is becoming Hollow in the pages of this collection of poems, whose harshness cannot be softened even by the flashes of light that are usually childhood memories.
- We should have been happy (The Swiss Army Knife): There are books that are appetizing from their cover, from their title. There are books that start like this: “Before I was born, my mother had already written a suicide note”; and that from that moment on they are impossible to leave. There are books capable of drawing beauty from pain, from that peering into the well of the past to which it is so easy to fall (“Women and children cry, but the pain has just begun. I still don’t know, however, death unfolds over us like a flower that opens little by little ”). There are books in which nothing is left over, which unite with just and precise words three generations of women – grandmother, mother and daughter – who share something more than genetic inheritance. There are novels that are like a puzzle made up of short texts, a puzzle that is half a timeline, half a family tree that you have to put together with patience. There are novels that are poetry and writers capable of turning a personal story into poetry and it is convenient to read and follow the track. All this, together and at the same time, happens with the Uruguayan writer Clara Lahore and her We should have been happy.
- Nobody knows that this is no man’s land (The Swiss Army Knife): Barely 118 pages make up Nobody knows that this is no man’s land, a kind of small diary with which the Peruvian writer and filmmaker Percy Chávez Alzamora reflects on what will be his second experience with fatherhood. There is much depth under the false appearance of lightness of this title: “The idea of fatherhood is accompanied by frustration: it does not carry the future child within one. Father’s love is born with an intrinsic melancholy. A love that is born from impossibility, from failure, from sadness, from faith ”. Also a lot of sense of humor: “When I was twenty years old and lived with my parents, I didn’t have a private place to fuck (…) Things haven’t changed much twenty years later. Now that I am a father, the situation is the same ”. In that perfect combination of depth, lightness and sense of humor lies the secret of Nobody knows that this is no man’s land, a book that, surely without intending it, forces the reader to reflect long and hard on fatherhood.
- The Waterfall (Editorial Carmot): In a passage in the novel, Nathalie, the protagonist of The Waterfall, he recalls attending an engraving workshop where he drew a small venus from Willendorf: “She had a round body, hanging breasts (…). But what fascinated me most was his face, like a gag, as if his face had been turned from a slap and the back of his neck had been left on his chest. That was the essence of motherhood, she thought then. A body at the service of human progeny, fertile and nursing, united with a hidden face, gagged, brutally extracted from its place because nobody cares and the expression that could be contemplated in it. The only important thing is to raise the child, to ensure that the species is perpetuated through the female body ”. There is much of that venus erased in Nathalie’s story, in the descent into hell that a toxic relationship and a loved son suppose for the protagonist (who illuminates, however, at the same time acts as a chain to a life that is rejected) You arrived at the wrong time, place and with the wrong person. The story is accurately told by the writer and literary translator Blanca Gago, who weaves an addictive, disturbing, terrible, painful and dark story that is a life lesson.
- In autumn (Anagram): “The parents give life to the child, the child gives hope to the parents. That is the transaction. Sound like a burden? It is not. Hope does not demand ”, writes Karl Ove Knausgard in the pages of In autumn, the first volume of The quartet of the stations that the Norwegian author wrote around the birth of his fourth daughter, Anne. Three letters to the unborn daughter and a series of disjointed and philosophical reflections on the most diverse subjects (from jellyfish, to chewing gum, to genital lips or tin cans) make up a book with which Knausgard intends to show To her future daughter the world as it is now so that later she can discover it for herself: “Showing you the world, my little one, makes my life worth living.” In autumn It is not My Fight nor does it pretend it, but Knausgard’s unmistakable voice and ability to see the great in the everyday will not disappoint his legion of loyal readers.
- Created (Captain Swing): The maid, one of the trendy series on Netflix, has its origin in Created, the heartbreaking autobiographical account of poverty by American journalist Stephanie Land. An unexpected pregnancy changed Land’s hitherto comfortable life forever. Due to a lack of family support and a tortuous relationship marked by sexist violence, she not only had to abandon her dream of studying at the University, but was also forced into a race for survival (hers and her daughter) with all the difficulties that being a solo mother entails. Created is a descent into the underworld of the American dream and neoliberalism, a reminder of the fragility of the middle classes, a realistic portrait of one of the lowest valued and paid jobs (cleaning someone else’s houses) and a story of overcoming loaded with all the epic that motherhood has, especially when the letters are badly given and a mother has to do whatever and whatever in order to raise her daughter.
- Holiday (Errata naturae): After publishing a couple of years ago Génie la loca, with which Inès Cagnati won the Deux Magots 1977 prize, Errata Naturae once again investigates the work of the French writer to recover another of her jewels, The holiday, which was Cagnati’s first novel and with which he won the 1973 Roger-Nimier Prize. On The Holiday Inès Cagnati once again shows her mastery to represent the rural world and the family relationships that are found in it. They interweave, represented in this case by a wild and brilliant adolescent, Galla, who despite adoring her mother and little sister, seems not to fit in either her family or the boarding school where she studies. The hardness and sadness that ran like a dagger through the pages of Genie la loca return to make an appearance in The holiday, a novel narrated with a concise language and content that reinforces the feeling of orphanhood of an endearing girl who begins a 35-kilometer journey by bike (those that separate the institute from the family home) called to change her life forever.
- Madr?eh? (Random Comic): For Marta Puig, whom we know as Lyona, getting to motherhood was not as expected. His professional life, his life expectations and not having a partner to share the journey with, were delaying the moment until, he says, “it was too late.” His experience has been told in Madr?eh? (Random comic), a humorous comic with which I wanted to make visible issues that we still have trouble talking about. Assisted reproduction, endometriosis, infertility, anguish when the desire to be a mother is not fulfilled, discrimination in fertility processes or the fragility of current relationships run through the tricolor illustration book: pink, black and white. Lyona said in this interview that we should keep talking about all this. That there is still not enough literature on everything that surrounds motherhood. “They are topics, stories, that should not only be of interest to women. I look at my book and I think it is an adventure story. Everything happens! There is drama, there is sex, there is action, there is fear. Why can’t this be universal? For centuries we have swallowed the stories of knights, of warriors, why can’t we be interested in the story of a woman who is going to be a mother? ”. Madr?eh? adds to motherhood in the first person.
- Third person (Peripheral): Valérie Mréjen will be a discovery for those who have not read anything of her. In Third person We found what we could see as a kind of travel notebook of her arrival in this unknown land that is motherhood. Although his story is autobiographical, he tells it in the third person, as if he still cannot believe what is happening. As if he were looking from the outside at the creation of a new universe in which a new vocabulary has to be invented, the way of relating and thinking. “It takes a while to be able to say ‘my daughter’. It is not natural to him. Even after delivery she is not sure that she can pronounce those words, ”she writes. Mréjen is an incredible observer, she dwells on the small details, which are really the important ones. There is poetry in the couple’s arguments, in the schedules imposed by parenting, in the exhaustion, in the people who stalk her in the street to touch the baby with their filthy hands, in the objects that change places and even in a show of puppets. It is an essential book. Beautiful and original.
- The girl who arrived with a future under her arm and other pseudo-maternal tales (Libros.com): “I write these lines sitting on the floor with my daughter. The task is not easy: she, who still knows little about writing or anything other than her changing sensations, interrupts me every so often demanding exclusive attention ”. This is how this book written with blows begins that Marta Pérez Arellano, an anthropologist and social worker, managed to publish thanks to a campaign of crowfunding. The girl who arrived with a future under her arm and other pseudo-maternal tales (Libros.com) is a look at care from the first person experience. Reflect on issues such as precariousness, privilege, the sharing of care or the place of motherhood in society without taking anything for granted. There is a lot of ambivalence in his account. Lights and shadows. What is not motherhood but this?
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