«I hope you enjoy the novel as much as I enjoyed writing it» › Culture › Granma

«I hope you enjoy the novel as much as I enjoyed writing it» › Culture › Granma
«I hope you enjoy the novel as much as I enjoyed writing it» › Culture › Granma

“I still haven’t fallen,” the Argentine writer Guillermo Paniaga tells us, referring to his recent Casa de las Américas award, for his novel Buenos Aires, fin de autumn, winner among a sea of ​​titles, due to the implementation, for the first time, of the virtual delivery of the works.

Born in Rosario in 1971, Paniaga has a degree in Journalism and currently works as a secondary school teacher in public education in the province of Santa Fe. From the first exchanges, he confesses that he is never fully satisfied with what who writes «There are times when it seems to me that what I have in my hands is very good and others, quite the opposite. In one of the positive moments, a few days before the admission period closed, I decided to send it: and wonderfully here we are.

–Did you feel, in your heart, that you had a great chance of winning?

–Of course when I sent it I did so believing that I would have some chance of winning it; I wouldn’t say “great,” because the quality of Latin American literature, as is known, is excellent, and therefore a contest like the Casa de las Américas is not easy at all; but he did feel that he was at least in a position to compete, as I think all those who participated with his works must have felt. However, regarding the number of works presented, I also learned that a large majority came from Argentina and that, for me, is a reflection of the excellent public education in my country, today in danger due to the attacks and defunding to which It is submitted by the Government that we have had to suffer since last December. “I am very grateful and I feel very proud of Argentine public education, and I know that it will endure.”

–Are you moved by having won the Casa?

-Of course. It is a huge recognition and pride to have been awarded by Casa de las Américas. It was always a goal, especially because of the relationship it had from the beginning with one of my “heroes” of literature: Julio Cortázar. With the help of Cortázar I got fully involved in all this; imitating him at first, consciously or unconsciously, and later, with my own voice, but always feeling his presence; and along with it, its history, of which a very important part is occupied by Cuba and Casa de las Américas.

–Is Buenos Aires, End of Autumn a historical novel?

–I do not consider it historical, although one of the most violent events in Argentine history does go through it as a context and direct influence: the aerial bombardment – ​​with armed support from the ground – of the Casa Rosada and Plaza de Mayo, which, seeking to assassinate Perón and installing terror in Argentina, caused the death of almost 400 people and seriously injured more than a thousand.

«This bombardment, which began around noon on June 16, 1955, and lasted until late afternoon, was the baptism of fire of the Argentine Navy Aviation. That is to say: the first time they shot at someone, beyond an exercise or test, with the intention to destroy and kill, it was within their own country and with their civilian compatriots as a target.

«With this violent context of that late autumn in Buenos Aires, several intersecting stories develop: those of a boy and his father who lose each other, loves, heartbreaks, a conspiracy, a rape, an attempted rape, a “crime” (so, in quotes) that seeks to be hidden in chaos. It even goes a little further back, appealing to analepsis, to what is known as the Tragic Week of 1919, in which there was also a massacre of Argentine workers during a strike declared by the workers of the Vasena Workshops. In short: I do not consider it a historical novel, although very significant events in Argentine history do go through it.

–Do you consider that any transformation has occurred in you during the scriptural journey?

–They asked me the other day how long it had taken me to finish it and I answered that it took me a couple of months to write it and more than five years to correct it. But in reality it was much longer, because the first attempt to write it was more than ten years ago, and I was not able to continue it until much later. And it was during that period that I experienced a change that allowed me to return to the idea and make it concrete.

«I don’t know how to define exactly what that change consisted of, let’s call it spiritual, but it did allow me to leave the centrality of the character Manuel X., and put together the story from the point of view of each of the characters that populate it. Finally, although I am never completely satisfied, as I told you at the beginning, I felt that I had achieved something that was good.

–What do you aspire to in your relationship with readers?

–I hope you enjoy reading the novel as much as I enjoyed writing it. And I make a clarification: enjoyment during the writing process. Because the correction, the rewriting, which takes me years, is always a bit tortuous. I reserve that for myself.

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