Thursday, September 29

Javier Pérez Andújar: “As freedom is lost, humor disappears”

Javier Pérez Andújar (Sant Adrià de Besos, Barcelona, ​​1965) won the last Herralde award with
‘The Year of the Buffalo’
, an unidentified literary artifact full of coups d’état, revolutions that have just been regulated, and psychophonies arising from it is not known very well where; a book through which dictators and coup plotters recently emerged from Wikipedia and the newspaper library of ‘Le Monde’ are parading while four guys share a lockdown in a garage and the footnotes are made little by little with the control of the main narration . “Everything fits in the novel, it endures everything”, relativizes the Barcelona author, one of the most skillful tightrope walkers in contemporary narrative.

Spanish writers come in very handy, we come from metaphysics and St Thomas», He adds sarcastically when he begins to look for the germ of ‘The Year of the Buffalo’ at some vague moment in the nineties, when he still lacked a decade to publish his first novel. «It was the first thing I wanted to write, but at the time I didn’t dare. And not for me, but for life. I thought that with something like that people would think that I could not write. That idea that to be able to dare with something avant-garde you first have to master the classic … That happens to me for studying! “, Explains the author of ‘The brave princes’.

By then, Perez Andújar He worked in an encyclopedia writing entries and captions and, he says, he was already fantasizing that all those captions were secretly chained to give life to an endless novel. “It was impossible, because then by the layout itself someone would come and cut the foot or change the photo,” he clarifies. With ‘The Year of the Buffalo’, revolutionary novel on the lost revolutions, Sant Adrià’s has gone a bit further and encouraged the footnotes to carry out a coup against the main narrative to formally replicate what is going on within the book. «I wanted the book to be a living being to which the same thing that was explained inside happened. In addition, for someone like me, who has always been marginal in everything, it was normal for everything to end up shifting to the margins, “he explains.

—’The Year of the Buffalo ‘refers to a specific Chinese year: 1973. Why?

“It’s a year that suited the book well.” Also, with the oil crisis, it is like a barrier. It symbolizes the moment when a way of seeing the world fails. The optimism of progressive Europe crumbles and the lead years and the rise of conservatism are coming. In Spain it is the year in which Carrero Blanco is killed.

– “In Spain it has always been 1939, but rather 1492. 1992 was a mirage,” he writes.

“With my heart in my hand, I tell you: as a good Spanish writer, I have a black vision of Spain.” It is something that has always been there, from Quevedo to Cela. In Lazarillo there is already that pessimism.

Pérez Andújar also cites Umbral, Gómez de la Serna and his beloved Gregorio Morán, a constant presence in the pages of the novel, but when looking for dance partners for ‘El año del Búfalo’ he opts for Tintin and the Rogues, with its military coup leaders and its sinister dictators, and ‘The Book of the Damned’, by Charles Ford. “It’s not that I’m in ‘The Year of the Buffalo’, it’s that it’s in me,” he defends. Hence, he insists, his passion for the margins and the not strictly urban suburbs. «I have always been someone marginal, either because of the neighborhood in which I lived or because of political ideas», Defends an author for whom humor has always been something inseparable from his own creation. «I do not resort to him. I get. It’s like typing with three fingers or holding the pencil in a certain way. As a child I liked it a lot Mark Twain and I still like him now, so I guess I like people who write with a sense of humor, “he explains.

—And how do humor and politics marry?

“It’s a relationship that has always existed.” Or had existed. The retranca of Carrillo and Felipe, that of: ‘We have won, but we do not know who’ … Even Suárez had ironic gestures.

“Is that lost?”

“It is a manifestation of freedom and intelligence that has been constrained.” As freedom is lost, humor disappears. Politicians were free people who practiced politics. They were spontaneous.

“Where do you think a book like this fits in now that everything tends to be extreme literalism?”

“It’s something that worries me.” Because it’s true that sometimes they tell me it’s weird. But books are not rare. If anything, we are rare writers. No one would say that ‘Hopscotch’ is weird. Or ‘The Odyssey’. Books are not rare. Intelligence is not rare. The weird thing is that everything is the same. Now it is no longer read to read, it is read to find information. It is the trap of the 2000s. What is it that a book has to give you something? Not even a leg of ham. A book is a useless thing that makes you feel very useful.

“The novel is full of nods to confinement.”

-It was inevitable. Suppurative confinement. The four of the garage was there from day one, but what I have done is to leave the confinement transcribed in the book. And that is good, because it means that it is due to its time, it is committed to its time. And an artist has to commit to his time. Not with a political ideology, but with an era.

“And do you feel connected to your time?”

“Yes, but from the margins.” My hard drive is formatted in the 20th century. And being able to be from the 20th century, why am I going to be from the 21st? But come on, if I take the elevator, I do it in the 21st century, not in the 20th.

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