Saturday, June 6 - 5 PM
Organized by Fundación Proa and Sur de Babel, independent book club
Pedro de Mendoza 1929, La Boca, Buenos Aires
Free access to the open interview
"I have been thick and unfortunate ever since I can remember (…) I had hidden secrets behind the couch. Useless, but fresh things. Dessert spoons and scissors. I used them to stroke my face heated with fury for being and thinking like a fat 39 year old".
Extract from the novel 'Muerta de hambre'
Sur de Babel, Independent Book Club
A monthly selection of the best-kept literary secrets edited in Argentina.
Sur de Babel is an independent book club that intends to give a broader reach to the books edited by smaller Argentine book publishers. Every month a narrative work is selected (either novel or short story), after a careful editorial search and reading of all the material received, is sent out to all the members. Each member pays monthly subscription of $10, covering the shipment costs and membership fees, in addition to the price of the book selected for the month.
The Sur the Babel editorials are Del Dock, Bajo La luna, El cuenco de Plata , Entropía, Mansalva, Malas Palabras Buks, El Andariego, among others. The web site holds all previous selections, along with the interviews made to the authors and members of the selected editorial. Sur de Babel is not an editorial, receiving only edited material or works to be edited. This cultural project was born by the disparities in today’s book market: The books that appear on the tables of the major books stored are often edited by larger publishers, which often times leave out excellent literary proposals. The main objective of Sur de Babel is to shed new light and and opportunity to the literature hidden amongst the book stacks.
About the novel
"My mouth is full of hunger. Nevertheless, my body is too heavy to engulf. I’ve gained several pounds in the last days. I can’t stand the clarity of existence: my fat rolls are confused with the sofa where I am interlocked".
Aesthetics, beauty, and thinness are elemental when thinking of the cannons used to analyze the feminine stereotypes of today. At first, Muerta de Hambre could be considered to rival against postmodern stereotypes, at the same time as being a story charged with educative and moral teachings. Nevertheless, none of this happens, as the story progresses we notice that the irony, sarcasm, and huge “weight” of the protagonist are the support for an ominous and turbulent dialogue that even the reader finds hard to digest.
Maria Bernabé Castelar, amongst spoons, desserts, and candy wrappers allows for us to penetrate the story of her life with a variety of short stories that regenerate themselves within the confinement and jail-like appearance of the body. Bernabe represents pure loneliness. A child, a teenager, and a hungry, un-loved woman that finds herself in a place that starts and ends “by the plate”. Garcia Lao, at the core of a desolate monologue, shows as a woman chained to the insurrection of her own boundaries, of her own personal discourse, and to the most intimate gastronomical compulsion. It is at this point that the reader finds himself within the boundaries of a body, and of a discourse that can explode at any minute. Fatality surrounds the protagonist and those around her but even inside the tragedy, they make us smile with a bit of sarcasm and irony about the destiny of our weighty protagonist.
The aesthetic plurality, the delicate writing and an argument that stands out by its creative tone and good humor, are only some of the reasons why Sur de Babel chooses to celebrate Muerta de Hambre. A story rooted in a delicious stylistic support, and a woman that makes us smile and laugh with a captivating argument that allows for us to step back from the recently digested words.
About the author
Fernanda Garcia Lao was born in Mendoza in 1966. At the young age of 10, due to the political situation affecting the country, her family decided to move to Madrid, where she lived until 1993. “My way of being, my personality, is strongly related to being exiled”, expressed the author and adds the following on regards to her life and work: “My words gained importance when I had to leave everything behind, from a young age I have cultivated monologues”.
Garcia Leo has lived in Buenos Aires for over 16 years and possesses an extensive, varied, and interesting artistic career. She is also a narrator, dancer, playwright, actress and journalist. No doubt her work presents all her integrity and artistic plurality. She received the following awards: First Prize for a Novel given by Fondo Nacional de las Artes, and Third Prize of the Julio Cortázar Novel (2004). She also received a grant from Fundación Antorchas for her play Ser el amo, and the award from Secretaría de Cultura de la Nación for La mirada horrible (2002), among others.
Edgardo Russo, owner of a long and successful editorial career, and after having investigating and participating on several projects related to literary production, started his own editorial in 2004: El cuenco de plata. “The main differential characteristic of El cuenco de plata is that we do not promote ourselves as ‘a company of Argentine capital’ (because it is not any guarantee anything and also because one of our partners is from Bolivia), and our passion for books prevails over any social prestige or genealogy”. The editorial has an interesting and extensive catalogue covering all narrative genres, and can be explored by any single reader (utopical?), that finds comfort and pleasure in all its proposals, no matter their variety.
Interview to Victoria Rodríguez Lacrouts, from Sur de Babel
By Diego González, Librería Proa
- What developed the idea for Sur de Babel?
- It was a personal matter. Both Josefina Heine and me are avid readers and we love to spend our time searching bookstores, which is imperative if you wish to get “something more”, since most bookstores only display on their novelty tables the exact same thing as the other stores. What do you see? Books edited by the big editorial firms. In order to search for that special something, first of all you need time, and then information, since I won’t find different offers if I don’t ask for it. For this reason many books and projects are left unseen. With all of this in mind we began brainstorming about the possibility of making this project accessible to people. This was the birth of the Sur de Babel Independent Book Club.
- What type of members do you have?
- Luckily, they vary. We have readers that are more advanced than others. What we realized is that this excites us, Sur de Babel found its place in two different types of readers: to the “experts” the offer is very attractive, since they get to encounter new authors with every one of the selections. For those who don’t read very often, the idea of receiving new books to their homes along with interviews to the authors and editorials, is quite novel. Usually, this type of reader won’t search for new things on the bookstores, and with this system, they are informed and pushed to good literatu re. Its of great importance to us to create a closer bond between the books and the reader, and this is what makes the radical distinction between our club and a bookstore or online store. Sur de Babel has a particular selection criteria: to read, to discuss and the choose. This is also why the interviews are primordial for the project.
- What is your relationship with Fundacion Proa?
- We are very happy to combine our objectives with Fundación Proa. The bookstore at Proa also aims to promote and generate visibility to smaller firms. They provide a space for our book selection presentation, which we cherish greatly. On the other hand, we will start to conduct our interviews at Proa; we are very excited to promote and bring back the live interviews to the authors that often give new perspective to the readings. The first talk will be to Fernanda Garcia Leo, author of Muerta de Hambre, the selection for May. The novel is excellent. We thought that making it at the beggining of June would be appropriate, in order to give everyone proper time to read the novel and be able to ask questions to Fernanda. A book signing will be held afterwards.
For all press enquiries, you can contact Fundación Proa Press Department: 0054-11-4104-1044 / firstname.lastname@example.org