I am curious about Historia de Yuké (Corregidor)—a forthcoming novel by Eduardo Lalo. It was going to be presented at the 44th edition of Argentina’s International Book Fair (FIL) in April 2018, but I believe it is still not out. [Any news from our readers? It should be here any day now!] Here are excerpts from Nodal Cultura (and see author’s bio below). It is interesting to read what the writer had to say about the reception of Caribbean literature in the framework of cultural geopolitics and the market:
[. . .] Caribbean writer [Eduardo Lalo] anticipates that he will present a new novel, Historia de Yuké, at the FIL. Critical of the current cultural geopolitics, Lalo recognizes that the diffusion of works by creators from poor countries does not have the same force as those who invest a lot in that circulation.
[. . .] -How did the reception of your work change after receiving an international award [Rómulo Gallegos Award for Novel]?
-An award grants attention. But I have always said that I would like to be the same person, the same writer I was before receiving the award. I have spent too much time being read by too few people to change my life now. What has always interested me is what I want to continue interesting me. That is why I publish through editors like Corregidor. Literary agents and representatives of powerful publishing houses have approached me. I said no to everyone. I do not believe in them. I would like to be in more bookstores of Latin America so that more readers could access my books, but I want to publish with publishing houses that “live” a certain kind of book and cultural creation.
-Your books are published in the Archipiélago Caribe series. Why is Caribbean literature not so well known?
-There is an expression that is used a lot: “Latin America and the Caribbean.” It sounds good because there is an inclusion, but it is full of contradictions. It seems as if there were a real Latin America, the continental one, the one born of the liberation struggles of the 19th century, and then there is that mess of islands in the sea that touches the shores of the empire to the north. Behind this expression hides a huge racist prejudice, because the Caribbean is black. The countries of South America have an illusion of purity, which was expressed though the words of the Argentine president when he said that all South Americans were descendants of Europeans.
– How is Puerto Rico’s relationship with the United States?
-It’s a colonial relationship. Unlike other Latin American countries, Puerto Rico was conquered twice. The second was a modern conquest by the country that has seduced the whole world with its popular culture industry and its model for life. Here, people long for the same things that a Puerto Rican will long for: the latest washing machine, the latest car model. That power can buy consciences or seduce them. In Latin America, we are increasingly isolated. You immediately find out about Donald Trump’s latest tweet or from the latest mediocre novel by an American author, but you do not hear about what is happening in a neighboring country. Since I come from a country that does not have any prestige in the cultural world, my books are translated very rarely. Simone did not seem Caribbean enough for a French publisher. Maybe the publisher was expecting palm trees and beaches. It is the height of colonialism. [. . .]
Biography (from escritores.org):
Eduardo Lalo was born in Cuba in 1960. He grew up in Puerto Rico, where he resides. He studied at Colegio San Ignacio, at Columbia University, and at Université Sorbonne Nouvelle (Paris 3). He is a professor at the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras campus.
He has written numerous works of fiction and essay. In 1986, he published Burger King de la Calle San Francisco, and, in 2006, the essay Los países invisibles, which received the Ciudad Juan Gil-Albert Award. In 2013, he won the Rómulo Gallegos Prize for his novel Simone. He has directed two medium-length films: Dónde and La ciudad perdida. He is also a photographer.
For full article, see https://www.nodalcultura.am/2018/02/eduardo-lalo-escritor-puertorriqueno-l-sujeto-de-la-escritura-es-lo-indecible/; for full bibliography, see escritores.org.