Today’s guest, Argentinian novelist, short story writer, and journalist Mariana Enriquez has been called the queen of Latin American gothic horror. She is in the vanguard of a generation of Latin American women writers breaking new ground in the horror genre. We look at the ways her work extends Argentina’s long and storied tradition of fantastical literature, but, even more, we look at the remarkable ways her writing departs from it, the ways Anglophone horror writers have inspired her to write an Argentinian horror that is similarly place-based, that comes up from the land and the events that happened on it (and still haunt it today), that engages with the stories, customs, rituals, fears, and politics of the place where the story is set. We also talk about her assertion that Latin America, while it has a long and deep history of fantastical literature, as well as a few examples of horror, doesn’t, in her mind, have what amounts to a horror tradition, and she theorizes about why England and the U.S., by contrast, have such a deep engagement with horror as a genre.
We talk not only about horror in relation to place and literary tradition, but also horror in relation to gender, and the gothic in relation to gender. About the role of women as characters in the horror genre and about the new wave of Latin American women writers attracted to horror as a lens through which to create their work. We also talk about the politics and aesthetics of portraying violence, and how her work does and does not map itself in relation to the brutal dictatorship she grew up under and which is the setting of her new novel, her first in English, Our Share of Night.
Many writers get mentioned and discussed in this conversation, from Jorge Luis Borges to Stephen King to Ursula K. Le Guin, but I want to mention one writer who we discuss several times, the Mexican writer Fernanda Melchor. Melchor’s past appearance on the show to discuss her book Hurricane Season is the perfect pairing with today’s episode with Mariana.
For the bonus audio archive, we’ve added a long-form conversation with Mariana Enriquez’s translator Megan McDowell. There is also a long-form conversation with Megan from when Alejandro Zambra was on the show as well. They make a great pairing as Megan was translating both of their books simultaneously during the first years of the pandemic and she makes some revelatory comparisons between their books, and between Chilean and Argentinian literature in relation to the fantastic and the real. To learn how to subscribe to the bonus audio archive and about the many other potential rewards of joining the Between the Covers community as a listener supporter, head over to the show’s Patreon page.
Finally here is today’s Bookshop.