The OF Blog: Author Spotlight: Angélica Gorodischer

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Author Spotlight: Angélica Gorodischer


Stop me if you've heard this before: Talented female author mixes in gender role analysis and deep, introspective societal examination with prose that is evocative. But instead of being an Anglo-American writer such as Ursula Le Guin or Marion Zimmer Bradley, Argentinian author Angélica Gorodischer sadly is barely known here in the United States, despite a body of work in Spanish that rivals that of Le Guin or any other SF/fantasy author, male and female alike.

Gorodischer was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1928, although she has lived most of her life in Rosario, Argentina. She has been active in writing all sorts of fiction, from SF to mysteries to feminist literature and criticism, with Kalpa Imperial (1983, 1984 in two parts; English translation done by Le Guin in 2003) being her most famous work outside of Latin America. Active from 1964 to the present, her stories depend heavily upon introspection and the presentation of rather ridiculous societal practices in a new setting to accentuate the asinine nature of things such as patriarchal attitudes and the over-reliance upon tradition to guide people. Currently, only Kalpa Imperial (which incidentally contains an oblique critique of the military junta that ruled there from 1976-1983) and the story "The Violet's Embryos" (published in the anthology Cosmos Latinos in 2003) are available in English translation.

This is a crying shame, as Gorodischer is one of those rare authors whose prose and themes resonate between generations and between cultures. Hopefully, some reading this will be encouraged to check out either one of the two English translations, or if they are able to read Spanish, will try reading her works in the original, such as the story collection Bajo las Jubeas en flor, which I'm currently reading.

Edit: For a very good interview with Gorodischer, here's a link to the Fantastic Metropolis interview that Gabriel Mesa conducted a few years ago.

8 comments:

Fábio said...

Larry, sadly Angelica Gorodischer is virtually unknown here in Brazil as well. There isn´t no book by her translated to Brazilian Portuguese - and Brazil always had a tradition to publish Argentinean authors, as Borges, Corázar, Piglia, Arlt.

As crazy as it may seem, probably I´m going to read her eventually in the LeGuin translation.

S.M.D. said...

Is a good portion of her work translated into English?

Patrick Nielsen Hayden said...

That is the first picture I've ever seen of her, and I think I was the first anthologist to publish her in English. A great writer. Read Kalpa Imperial.

Larry said...

Fábio,

Le Guin's translation is fabulous. Let me know if you want my copy of it (I have it in the original, which I discovered would fetch me $100 in some places, in addition to the translation).

SMD,

I listed everything available in English translation as far as her fiction.

Patrick,

First off, welcome! Secondly, I agree about how talented of a writer she is. A shame she isn't well-known outside of Argentina.

Lola (L. Colleen) said...

I think this is perfect evidence of how narrow minded American universities are about literature from non-English speaking countries and their people. As an English student with a Russian minor and a growing love for Russian literature it is frustrating that the English department only offers one World Literature course (which I've already taken and was taught brilliantly by none other than a lowly graduate student).
It may not seem like it but I really think this is an aftereffect of Academia's prentious attitude toward non-American or British lit.
Sorry I went on a rant but this is a good example of the thing I think is fundamentally wrong with Academia, too many pretentious jerks.

Larry said...

Lola,

It's a difficult situation for many universities, because of the difficulties involved in offering translated editions of classic literature. English contains mostly English-language literature; Spanish and Spanish/Latin American Literature; French and French literature, etc. It seems to be more of a reluctance to teach a "great work" in a translated medium than it is to not offer the works at all. Not that it matters for the majority of university students who aren't functionally literate in a second language (since many second year foreign language classes barely get people to read sentences more complex than that of a third grader).

Oddly, it's a reluctance to read a work in translation that has motivated me to learn how to read Spanish and now bits and pieces of other Romance languages. I wonder if that attitude also plays a role in making it more difficult to access translated literature in English translation.

GabrielM said...

Just thought it worth linking the interview I conducted with Angelica a few years ago. Although the interview was conducted by email I also met her in person over lunch in New York, and found her to be a lovely person:

http://www.fantasticmetropolis.com/i/gorodischer/

Larry said...

I remember reading that interview a few times. I'll edit in a link to it shortly.

 
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