‘The language of polar bears’: The fear and desire of Sabina Orozco


When talking about her future, Sabina Orozco uses words like fear and uncertainty. “I think the engine of what I write is fear,” he confesses. An element, along with desire, omnipresent in his work. Orozco —28 years old, tattooed skin, red hair and lips— needs complete creative freedom, carefully choosing the companies he embarks on, even if it means abandoning stability, facing an uncertain tomorrow. The Oaxacan writer has just published her first book, The tongue of polar bears (2021, Little Bear) and to win the Francisco Cervantes Vidal National Young Poetry Prize 2021, thanks to the collection of poems Things that I will not tell my parentss. But, “success is not having an award, but rather that the book is part of a conversation,” she synthesizes sitting on the terrace of a cafeteria in Roma Norte, in Mexico City.

In the 12 stories that make up The tongue of polar bears, the protagonists are women with sad auras, unhappy with their relationships and their lives, who long for and desire, who face the apathy of the day to day. A woman who is forced to share a drunken night with her ex and his new partner; the boredom of a relationship that has ended up consuming itself in the routine of time; a daughter who looks with pity for the first signs of dementia in her mother. Stories of heartbreak and breakup, of loneliness and melancholy, of strangeness and pain pass through its pages. And, of course, scary. “I think that generationally there is an attempt to seek tenderness in a world where you have to take care of everything, all the time,” he says.

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Eroticism and fear of dying

“The women who inhabit these stories live immersed in an eroticism that disrupts innocence and follows the most recondite instincts until placing them in the place of strangeness,” writes Mexican author Olivia Teroba on the back cover of the book. However, for Orozco, eroticism, despite being involved, is not the central axis of his narrative. “This book at first perhaps spoke of heartbreak, but in reality I think it speaks of the fear of all the characters to be alone”, reflects the author. “Everything starts from a need that cannot be filled, be it from food, desire, the body. They are characters who are terrified all the time and are afraid of dying, not in a literal sense, ”he continues.

Someone recommended you read The separation of lovers (1968, XXI century), a work of the Russian psychoanalyst Igor Caruso. “Caruso says that the breakup is so painful because it is our initiation into a dying process. I think the book is about that, about the fear of dying through others ”, he clarifies. As for desire, she confesses that it is something that deeply intrigues her. “The fact that as a person one can have such a strong inclination towards someone else’s body that it becomes even uncomfortable. No one is going to finish explaining it, because it changes with each person, and it is a mystery that seems beautiful to me ”.

The Oaxacan writer Sabina Orozco during a photo session with EL PAÍS, this Wednesday.
The Oaxacan writer Sabina Orozco during a photo session with EL PAÍS, this Wednesday.Monica Gonzalez

In one of the stories, a woman has a tooth fetish, to the point that she ends up ripping them off one of her sexual partners. In another, the protagonist bites her ex’s current partner with relish. “I write these kinds of situations because I would never dare to do them in my life. It is a delicate matter, but in literature for me everything is valid as long as it is not explicitly exhorted to do the same off paper. I think it is not right to say that a certain book is not published because it validates violent situations. Critical reader tools are greatly underestimated. You can’t give them mush all the time. The danger lies in how the readers receive and manage the messages, and also the advertising strategies used by publishers ”.

“Doesn’t that reasoning remove all responsibility from the author?”

-Of course not. It is an extremely delicate matter, but I think it is necessary to take isolated cases, and ask ourselves from where the author is writing it.

“Is it necessary to separate the author from the work?”

—I think the most prudent thing is to see case by case. It is extremely complicated, but any comment that tries to link everything to a kind of totality is also dangerous. If you are a great writer and do something aberrant off paper, of course you have no right to be excused, to be excused from something terrible.

“But could we continue to enjoy your literature?”

-Certainly. Well, I would. You could continue reading him or watching his movies, without approving of atrocious behavior that person does in life. It is complex, but I think it is possible.

Boom authors editorial

Orozco is part of a generation of young women writers that survives thanks to constant moonlighting as word workers, writing, editing and collaborating with a thousand publications at the same time. She, who graduated in Hispanic Letters, now works as editor-in-chief of the Mexico Library magazine, although she also makes opinions, she is employed as an editor freelance, or publish articles in media such as This country, Inland O Hymen. In the remaining gaps, write for her. “Most of the time I have to write in my free time. It’s not something I want to be alternate all the time, because it’s work at the end of the day ”.

Furthermore, it is pragmatic. He knows the world in which he moves and takes advantage of its cracks and flaws: “You cannot be completely pure in art in general. It is undeniable that many more people are now consuming women’s literature because more is being published. If the market is publishing more women now, why not take advantage of it? Men will continue to publish. What matters to me is that they read my books ”. And she adds: “There have always been writers, but I think there is a boom authors editorial. Although talking about boom it is to put a label that works editorially, but literarily diminishes the power of the writings, which are very different ”.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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