Leonardo Aguirre: “There are many writers who dedicate themselves to public relations rather than polishing their text”

December 23, 2021

The Peruvian writer Leonardo Aguirre. Photo: Miguel Mejía

In Nine lives, the peruvian writer Leonardo Aguirre He used natural dialogues, with Lima slang and flatness as spoken daily in Lima, without any concessions. Also, lest they tell him it was autofiction, a debate of which he is already fed up, he used certain tricks with some obvious falsehoods.

“Does it bother you that they place Nine lives as self-fiction?

“The discussion bothers me because it’s absurd.” I don’t see what to criticize autofiction. Everything is fiction in general. Why would it be autofiction? Who knows if that is true? Who lives with me Reality is ungraspable, you cannot accurately record what happens in the real world. It is impossible.

—In the book you were not interested in describing the person from Lima on social networks, but rather the common person from Lima, the one on foot.

—Yes, people who are in a WhatsApp group are like that. There are rabid Fujimori, racists and discriminators. I didn’t want the main character of Nine lives will approach the intellectuals. It has flaws and defects. The people of Lima who are in social networks must also be pure pose and screen, they stick it as virtuous, but perhaps they are only virtuous on Facebook or Twitter.

Nine lives, the last book by Leonardo Aguirre.
Nine lives, the last book by Leonardo Aguirre.

—Do you think there is a lack of humor in Peruvian literature? I have remembered Bryce Echenique.

—Bryce is from another era, however, answering your question: in Peruvian literature there is a lack of powerful books that screw you and annoy you. There are also a lot of things that could not be written.

“Is this book a tribute to Lima?”

—I’m in love with my city, it awakens my passion with all its dirty things. Nor am I going to idealize or embellish it as anywhere. That was one of my intentions when I started writing but without being dishonest. I wasn’t going to go live for a week in Villa El Salvador to write about that district, that’s not what I do. But there are writers who do. It seems to me that it is dishonesty that the reader ends up feeling it, too. I have written about the places that had a lot of connection with my life.

Nine lives has this ridiculous character who wants to pass to posterity by putting grotesque objects, is it a criticism, in a certain way, of centralist Peruvian literature?

-I did not think about it like that. I caricature these flaws and it can be taken as a criticism, maybe we could see it that way. Now, there are writers who dress in suits to write. I don’t know what they think literature is: writing nice or looking for fancy words. One of the first duties of a writer is to renew the language or to create his own language, but I am not talking about extreme cases; but to create a recognizable style. Bryce has a recognizable style, Luis Jochamowitz has a recognizable style. Writers who believe only in awards and not in literature have grown bad. In many cases, books are no longer looked at, but rather how often they appear on social media or on television. There are many writers who do public relations rather than polish their text.

“Can you tell who you mean?”

—No, but there are many writers who have their editorial and publish someone; this someone is never going to write a review against that publisher. We have a critic like Ricardo González-Vigil, who is a rare case. We have academic critics, but the problem is that they are not in the press. There is a divorce between the academy and the real world. There are only poisonous reviewers, nothing more.


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