Gustavo Rodriguez, Alfaguara Novel Prize
The Peruvian writer Gustavo Rodríguez was consecrated this Thursday Alfaguara Novel Award 2023 with a text entitled 100 guinea pigs, which will arrive in bookstores on March 23. In a live broadcast, the press conference between the jury and the winner was held. In this dialogue, open to the press and with an open microphone, the publicist-turned-writer spoke about humor, old age, death and literature, among various topics, the highlights of which Infobae Cultura shares below.
About the tone of a novel, and his own in particular, he said: “I believe that a novel can fall due to different factors, because of the language, characters, story, certain inconsistencies, but the tone is ultimately what makes that novel have the X factor, and what I did pay attention to was the tone of the novel. I was also aware that I didn’t want it to end up being too cheesy, because talking about old people alone who have their memories, talking about death, talking about farewell can be melodramatic. So I think that the use of black humour, in my case, helped to counteract kitsch”.
About pain and death (in this novel), he expressed: “There are two dimensions to answer that question, the first one that is a little broader has to do with the kilometer that we have walked in our lives. If you have already passed 50 years, one is already calculating what is coming, he sees that his mentors are passing away or languishing, many are alone. So I think it creates an atmosphere when you talk about life in general. The second thing has to do with the fact that lately death has been around my house, my immediate surroundings, specifically the death of my father-in-law was a trance, which served to trigger me and to lead me to materialize all these thoughts that I had been having. My father-in-law was a very dignified person, and I think that wanting to aspire to that dignity in recent days was what led me to try to fictionalize this story.”
Some of Gustavo Rodríguez’s books[Los libros de Gustavo Rodríguez se pueden adquirir, en formato digital, en Bajalibros, clickeando acá.]
When asked by the president of the jury, Claudia Piñeiro, about whether there had been an intention to highlight memory –so important for Latin America and Spain– that they had recognized in the novel, he confessed: “I think it arises without want, but it’s like when a tennis player gets, between quotes, a good serve. It is not that it is unintentional, one comes practicing and practicing and practicing, and with the inputs that life gives him, for me memory is the main input of every narrator, of every writer, that is, it is the raw material of the which we extract stimuli, themes. And indeed, that is, if I do a search of all my novels, the characters always remember and reflect on what they remember. And if they don’t, it’s the narrator who reflects on what the characters remember about him. So, definitely, Claudia, yes, memory is like hydrogen in my literary atmosphere”.
Gustavo RodríguezYou may be interested: The Peruvian Gustavo Rodríguez, winner of the 2023 Alfaguara Novel Prize
When asked about humor, the one he handles with ease, he pointed out: “One of the things that has worried me over the years, and personally when they praise my novels or when someone has praised my novel is when they have told me ‘ I’ve had a lot of fun with your novel’, I don’t know when it was ruled that culture has to be boring, but that made me conflict, because when someone tells me ‘I’ve had a lot of fun with your novel’ (despite that the topic to be discussed is extremely violent, that is, at dawn they talk about rape, harassment), it left me with a bitter taste. However, I think that’s how I am, that is, shy guys like me, who are neither very athletic nor very handsome, have to use different strategies to survive, and in my case humor was an outlet for it. So I think that when I turn to my literature, well, that facet comes very naturally to me. What I have had to polish throughout my life is to differentiate humor from humor, that is, probably in my first writings the occurrence came out more than the hidden humor. With experience, one learns to handle humor in this way, but over the years one also becomes more self-confident, and now I have to confess that lately it doesn’t make me sleepy much when someone says ‘I enjoyed your novel ‘Well, that’s fine, especially when I found out that one day someone found Stendhal dying of laughter in the street reading something and it was Don Quixote”.
When asked about music, present in other novels by the author, he expressed: “I tend to be a writer who also feeds on music, music could not be absent in the case of One Hundred Guinea Pigs, but music is not so protagonist, but it does let itself be heard. This time it’s about jazz. I think that the rhythm of this novel, if we talk about the music, has to do with the jazz that I listened to while I was writing it, because that’s what I did this time, unlike my other novels. It is the first time that I write a novel with headphones and music in my ears”.
This is how “The Third Paradise” begins, the novel by Cristian Alarcón that won the AlfaguaraPilar Quintana Award: “The only way one can do what they want is by writing books”Increases, shortages and concentration in the book industry: “If you can’t get paper, you can’t edit”
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