The will of the soft, the memorable novel Karina Pachecois back in bookstores, but this time with a different distinction: winner of the National Prize for Literature 2022 (For the year of the wind). The day that the country would recognize the work of the narrator of Cusco was the same day that the political and social crisis would intensify with the coup d’etat of Pedro Castillo. Since then, events have kept the Peruvian author in a constant reflective state that she shares today with GlobeLiveMedia .
What have you written since that day?
I was working on new stories, but since December 7, 2022 I felt a little paralyzed by the context. As it happens to many Peruvians: I wake up worried, wondering where we are going as a country. The fractures of a lifetime not only seem to stay as fractures, but seem to come back deeper.
What role do writers play in this healing process? Or do you think that in 2023 writers have lost their relevance in this task?
It depends on what you write. Mine is social and political history related to family history. Due to the same type of topics that I tackle and research for my novels, I may feel more challenged when it comes to asking questions or thinking outside of my literature.
And what has been questioned these days?
In general, we remain anchored in abysses, without seeing each other, without looking at each other. We are falling into an abyss from which we do not know how we are going to get out. But I think that, at least, gestures could be made on the part of the political class which are not given.
Precisely The will of the molea book that Planeta has republished shows these ruptures and these distances not only between Peruvians, but also between members of the same family.
I believe one of our biggest dramas as a country is the lack of looking in the mirror. We need to recognize ourselves intimately and in all our diversity. We built national self-esteem on very superficial symbols like ceviche, grilled chicken, a picture of Machu Picchu. Where is our self-esteem as a country? From childhood, we are taught that you grow up trampling on more people.
Did you feel oppressed?
Yes, never and I see it all the time. The phrase: “Do you know who I am? is like saying I am above you, I am a first class citizen and you are third class. Instead of building a country together, I impose my strength because I have the right to do so.
In the world of publishing, have you felt excluded?
When I started publishing yes, because of such strong centralism. Until my fourth novel, which won the Federico Villareal National Prize for Literature (in 2010), I received no media attention. What comes out of Lima is viewed with suspicion with the prejudice that it may not have as much quality. I had some good reviews, but few.
Did you get the impression that they read your work with interest or was it general texts?
The first and only examination of The will of the soft in its first edition in 2006, it came out a year after the book was published. She was quite complimentary, but I was never driven by the publicity my books received, otherwise I wouldn’t have written so much.
What had to be done for us now to be a little more interested in what narrators from regions other than Lima write?
Lima is generally very deaf to the production, to the social and political processes, to the history of the region, which we see. My thing, as an author, is little compared to all the drama of historical prejudices that exists in the face of regional realities. We think and analyze the country from a place that represents 0.23% of the national territory.
Do you think non-Lima writers are still pigeonholed into a certain type of literature?
It is believed that everything you write has to do with stereotyping. There are some very good jungle writers who write various topics about drug trafficking, trafficking, urgent, extremely interesting topics that lead to great explorations. In the Andes, there are people who write beautiful erotic poetry, a lot of historical novels, very good. These are writers who resist being pigeonholed.
Why continue this attempt to invite debate through literature in a country where almost no one reads?
For me, the need to express myself through literature is fundamental. There are things that with the language of reality, whether journalistic or even anthropological, do not fulfill me. And fiction, paradoxically, allows me to weave a language to untangle demons. If you find readers on the other side of the field, so much the better. If I had been guided by the sales of my books, I would have thrown in the towel on the first or the second novel.