Liliana Colanzi: «I am interested in having a dialogue with the political in my stories»

Lilina Colanzi (Bolivia, 1981), has recently joined the list of winners of the Ribera del Duero Prize with her work 'You guys shine in the dark', published on May 11 in Spain, Colombia, Mexico and Bolivia and which tomorrow, June 1, it will be released in Argentina and Uruguay.

Liliana Colanzi: «I am interested in having a dialogue with the political in my stories»

Lilina Colanzi (Bolivia, 1981), has recently joined the list of winners of the Ribera del Duero Prize with her work 'You guys shine in the dark', published on May 11 in Spain, Colombia, Mexico and Bolivia and which tomorrow, June 1, it will be released in Argentina and Uruguay. The author, who presented the book in Valladolid on Monday, has been framed among the most authoritative voices in the current Latin American publishing context: "It is a journey in which I feel very accompanied," says the writer and also editor. , who sees current literature, especially that carried out by female writers, as a journey where his generation is determined to rescue those forgotten authors who, however, represent "important influences" for today's writing.

In his publications he has cultivated no other genre than the story. What possibilities do you have in it that you think you could not find in another literary form?

Yes, it is true that everything I write, begins in any way, ends up becoming or embodied in a story. For me, it's a mystery because our writing opts for one form instead of another, what is happening to me lately is that my stories are taking on a slightly more hybrid form. For example, in the first story of this book, 'The cave', there are people who have told me that they see fragments that look like essays and it is true, suddenly I see that there is a transformation of the story towards another form that I am interested in exploring.

Despite their youth, they frame their writing among the current essential voices of Latin America. What do you think he brings?

I don't know (think). I think this is a trip in which I feel very accompanied, especially by many voices of Latin American writers whose work I follow, admire and also publish in a very small independent publishing house that I have in Bolivia. There is much talk of literature as an individual journey, and in a certain way it is, because we are battling with our own ghosts alone, but it is also a collective journey, in which above all I believe that we writers are meeting and looking backwards to see what happens with those voices of authors who were forgotten and who, nevertheless, are important influences. In this book, for example, the voices of authors from other decades that my writer sisters have discovered me are present in various ways. I am referring to Amparo Dávila, Silvina Ocampo... I don't think so much as individual authorship as being part of a current, history, which has many gaps that we writers are trying to fill.

The passage of time, death... guide or form part of their stories. Why that connection?

When I was younger I often thought about the age of the planet, how this galaxy had been formed, when the Earth could end... And I would feel dizzy and existential anguish related to that passage of time. Over time, I have reconciled myself to the realization of my smallness, and even of our smallness as a species with respect to everything that exists, and 'The Cave', the first story in the book, is a way of reflecting on it. The passage of time is also in the stories through radioactive material and in the exploration of ruins. I am interested in those forgotten or dilapidated places that have an unknown past history but that tell us something about the present.

Precisely practically all his stories ooze that concern for the destructive action of the human being on nature. Does he worry you until you lose sleep?

I am interested in there being a dialogue with the political in my stories. In fact, I think that many of the stories are told in science fiction or fantasy mode.

And what allows you to move between that fine line between fiction and reality?

There is a stigma with this type of narrative mode that has to do with the belief that it is a way of escaping from reality when in reality it is a very political mode that what it does is project elements of the present in slightly disfigured scenarios to make us see issues that because we have them so naturalized we cannot see them. In fact, one of the stories, 'The narrow path' speaks of a religious colony in which women are limited in their movements and whose bodies are subject to a patriarchal will. If we think about what is happening in the United States with the aborgo issue, there is also a connection with this. For me, literature is a way of reflecting on the present, although for this I often need an element of distortion.

Does he then resort to the story as a complaint?

Yes, in fact it is impossible for me to avoid concerns such as environmental destruction, which is one of the great issues of our time, as well as patriarchal violence, in which women's bodies are the main victims. This violence is present in these stories, but also the ability of the communities to reorganize, resist and stand up.

At the age of 36, you started the publishing house Dum Dum, what made you embark on the adventure?

The fascination with an author that I discovered in Argentina: Sara Gallardo, author of the novel 'Eisejuaz' published in Spain a couple of years ago by the independent publisher 'Malas Tierras'. This novel had been out of circulation for decades, which seemed like a crime to me because it is a work with poetic force and wonderful language, I did not understand how it was possible that not only had it not been republished for so many years in Argentina , but that it would not have been published even once outside of this country. Out of the desire to make it known among Bolivian readers, I launched this small publishing house that has been running for five years now, in which I publish approximately two or three books per year. The last two published authors have been Gabriela Wiener with 'Huaco Portrait', and Marina Closs, with 'Three Thunders', which is about to go to print.

What would you say is the state of the Bolivian editorial context? What peculiarities does it have?

The peculiarity is that there is no presence of transnationals. The entire circuit is independent, with the presence of small, medium and large publishers. Another characteristic is that there is no state support, which makes this circuit very vulnerable to situations such as the pandemic, which in fact caused the closure of bookstores and a lot of disaster in the publishing ecosystem. Despite this lack of support, especially in recent years, there has been the emergence of many publishers with specific angles: such as Mantis Editores, specializing in Latin American literature written by women, or Perra Gráfica, with illustrations created by an author in specific and that has a very small print run but with editions that are small works of art... That is to say, within how small this ecosystem is and the challenges and difficulties involved in publishing in Bolivia, there is specialization and great variety.

The fact that there are no large groups can also be an advantage.

What it favors is that the small ones can publish authors whose work generally appears in those big publishers. Because Random Hosue doesn't come to Bolivia is why I have been able to publish 'Huaco Portrait'. No transnational is interested in such a small market, so the rights are free for most authors.

Where does Liliana find inspiration?

For example, I found out about the radiological accident in Goiana in 1987 in a conversation with a Brazilian friend. Other times, inspiration comes from other readings. My stories are a dialogue with authors both contemporary and from other times. But stories also come to me through dreams... I find it quite difficult to plan what I am going to write about; I know that it filters in sometimes very strange ways.

He frequently participates in literary workshops and in fact the stories in this book have received contributions in them. What interests you about these meetings?

Above all, an alien gaze. I grew up in a city where there were no literary workshops, no literature career, and I didn't know any writers either. At that time, I really needed the gaze of someone who could look at things in my own text that I didn't see, who could suggest readings, and those seem to me to be the main contributions of a workshop.

She is a professor of Latin American Literature and Creative Writing at Cornell University. Do you see new blood?

Yes, of course. There is a new generation that is opening up different paths and that has powerful and innovative proposals.

What does it mean for you to have won the Ribera del Duero Award?

It makes me happy to know that at this moment there are readers in Mexico, Bolivia and Spain who can access the book, and that soon they will also do so in Argentina and Uruguay. It is a wonder!