When the topic of Argentine authors comes up, do you feeling like a freshman who walked into the wrong advanced literature course? Or maybe you’ve already dipped your toes into the Rioplatense literary scene, and have a major love going for the classics already. We can’t blame you, who wouldn’t love to spend the rest of their lives reading Cortázar? Isn’t Borges more than enough? Probably, but if you limit yourself to the time honored classics you could be missing out. In addition to Sábato, Bioy Casares and José Hernández, here is a list of five authors, all born in the 50 and 60’s, that should satiate your appetite for good reading.
Alan Pauls is one of Buenos Aires’ most acclaimed contemporary authors. In addition to being a writer he’s also a translator, essayist, film critic, and journalist. On top of all of that he was a professor of Literary Theory at Universidad de Buenos Aires, editorial manager at Página 12 and has written several movie scripts. Though often labelled as being “experimental” by critics, it is hard to put Pauls into one specific category. From his very first novel, El pudor del pornógrafo, to his most recent trilogy, exploring 1970’s Argentina – Historia del llanto, Historia del pelo, Historia del dinero – his books have never failed to win critics’ acclaim. His novel El pasado also won the Herralde Novel Prize and was adapted for the big screen, starring Gael García Bernal. Essays of his include El factor Borges and Manuel Puig: la traición de Rita Hayworth. “For me writing is a physical consequence derived from the act of reading,” Pauls explained in one interview. “Having read so much led me towards writing”.
Martín Caparrós is an Argentine journalist and writer. He went into exile during the military dictatorship, he first flew to Paris to study History at La Sorbonne and later to Madrid. Come 1983, the return to democracy brought with it a change of plan and Caparrós came back to Argentina, starting work as a journalist for Tiempo Argentino and Página 12, alongside Jorge Lanata. In 1991, he started publishing his own travel stories from around the world in a magazine called Página/30, and later became their chief editor. These stories were published under the name Crónicas de fin de siglo and won The Rey de España Journalism Award. His style is clear, straightforward and very much influenced by his career in journalism, so he serves as quite an easy read. If you want to start with one of his more well known works, check out Ansay o los infortunios de la gloria, El tercer cuerpo, Un día en la vida de Dios, Los Living, Comí and Echeverría. Like Pauls, Capparrós has won his share of accolades, having won the Konex Prize, the Planeta Prize and the Herralde Novel Prize, among others. “I am always amazed by the people who want to write without having read a book, it is as if someone wanted to play the guitar without having listened to music.” We couldn’t agree more, Martín.
César Aira is probably the most avant-garde writer of our time. An essayist, novelist, translator and playwright, he started out life in the province of Buenos Aires and later settled in our very own neighborhood of Flores. He has taught at the Universidad de Buenos Aires and Universidad de Rosario, including courses on Copi, Rimbaud, Mallarmé and Constructivism. His translation work – into both English and French – includes big names such as Stephen King and Antoine de Saint Exupéry. He is also a Konex Award winner, was named as a Chevallier dans l’Ordre des Arts et Lettres, and won the Guggenheim scholarship in 1996. His style is original and fresh; he departs from the commonplace and from so-called “appropriate writing techniques”. Think complex ideas, sudden twists and often a tendency to plough forward rather than stop to explain or analyze. He tends to write at least two books a year, notably: Ema, la cautiva; El Tilo, El vestido rosa, and Cómo me hice monja. He stated in one interview: “I deliberately want to create something new, but instinctively I continue loving the old.” And it is precisely in that combination that he found his own unique style.
Leopoldo Brizuela is an Argentine writer, translator and journalist. Once a Law and Literature student, he dropped out of both courses to devote all his time to pursuing a writing career. He started writing his first novel aged sixteen and has won multiple awards ever since, including: The Alfaguara Novel Award, The Konex Prize and The Fortabat Novel Award. One of his most notable novels is Una Misma Noche, the very same book which won him the Alfaguara Award. It tells the harsh story of Leonardo Bazán, a forty-something man who happens to witness the police breaking into his neighbor’s house. It takes him back to the memory of an event which also took place in the house in 1976, in which his father, as Bazán will later discover, was all too deeply involved. Though many critics find his style quite poetic, Brizuela confessed that he does not conform to any style at all, and that each story chooses its own tone instead. “What I truly love about writing is the possibility of discovering: discovering new frames, new structures, new stories.” So indeed, writing has everything to do with being curious.
Poet, narrator, essayist, journalist and possibly the last left-wing writer standing, Fabián Casas is one of the greatest writers of his generation and the man behind the concept of “La voz extraña”. He worked as a journalist for Diario Clarín, Olé, El Federal and El Gráfico, but his literary career kicked off when he founded the Poetry Magazine 18 Whiskeys. He later published his most famous poetry collection Tuca and a book of essays, Ensayos Bonsai. He has also penned fiction novels such as Lemmings and Ocio and was awarded the Anna Seghers Prize in Germany for his extraordinary writing and his influence among Latin American writers. Casas tries to get away from conventional writing techniques, blending genres and style and finds a way of connecting la filosofía de barrio with more eastern philosophies. The ardent Borges, Schopenhauer, T.S Elliot and Vonnegutt fan confesses that life can be very harsh without a proper dose of daily fiction and that freedom is all about getting away from oneself and embracing the idea of becoming others.