Macarena Cordiviola
artista audiovisual


Macarena Cordiviola





































Like a chorus of a Greek play, the multiplicity of female voices
By Macarena Cordiviola
August 2007

Argentine/ North American writer Gwendolyn Díaz specializes in the works of contemporary Latin American women authors. Her new book, ‘Women and Power’ is a collection of short stories by Argentine women writers, spanning several generations, including essays, interviews and portraits of each writer. It was presented at Buenos Aires ’ International Book Fair last May.

Why do you think it was important to write this book?

“I have felt passion for Argentine women writers since I was studying Spanish Language and Literature at the University of Texas . In 2000, I got the Fulbright Award and came to Argentina , and therefore started to work on this book. I have always wondered why these writers are not recognized as they should be in Argentina , not studied as they should be at universities. We are ignoring National literary treasures, and this is what I want to rescue with my book. Male authors, on the other hand, get more attention.”

“‘Women and Power’ details the tradition of women in literature, politics, and society in Argentina, and by extension women in general, and spreads it through out the world. For the Latin American woman, writing itself is a revolutionary act. This statement resonates clearly with the Argentine women authors interviewed for this book. After the deaths of authors Haroldo Conti and Rodolfo Walsh, murdered by the dictatorship because their fiction was critical of the government, those who chose to stay in the country and write did so knowing that their own lives were at risk. The impact of censorship and repression on the writers of this collection is varied, and it goes from Perón’s years to the recent economic collapse.”

Why ‘Women and Power’?

Power and domination are issues that have preoccupied Latin American women writers since the time of the conquest and the generalas (women warriors who commanded soldiers in the wars for independence)…”  “The topic of women and power is as complex and diverse as it is fascinating. The body has been molded, manipulated, and conceptualized as the site in which power and knowledge are inscribed and exert their control. Like a text, the body reveals the dynamics of power within a given social structure. The female body, in particular, has been the target of social control and manipulation by patriarchal interests. Therefore writers of repression find new strategies to name the unnameable, to put into words what is unconceivable.”

Why Argentina?

" Argentina has been among the leaders in Latin America in the number of women authors produced in the twentieth century.” “Yet, what makes the case of Argentine women writers unique is a certain ethos of being Argentine that generates a paradoxical self-questioning… women are expected to be strong and intelligent, to pursue a career and at the same time be feminine, domestic, and maternal.” “This collection offers the diverse perspective of Argentine women writers, keeping in mind there is no feminine absolute, but rather a multiplicity of women’s voices and experiences.”  

Can you share with us some excerpts from the book?

“Let’s choose some parts of the verbal portraits of Angélica Gorodischer, Luisa Valenzuela and Liliana Heer. Then, two questions from each interview, strong and in deep ones to show the power of these women.”

Angélica Gorodischer  

Angélica Gorodischer is a tall, lanky woman who walks with her head high and with frank warm smile on her face. Above all, she is down to earth. She communicates freely and generously and looks at you eye-to-eye, hoping to bridge any distance between one human being and another.

Gwendolyn Díaz: Your writing, while apparently direct, often possesses a subtlety and complexity that challenges the reader.

Angélica Gorodischer: That is precisely something that I am interested in doing, writing so ads to not to give the reader all the details. There are even times when I intend to dupe the reader. My objective is to allow readers to put something of them-selves in the act of reading….

GD: What aspects of power are you interested in exploring in your work?

AG: What I am interested in exploring in my narrative is the trajectory of a character from weakness to power or from power to weakness. I am interested in understanding the obscure impulse that propels someone to take a position of power. This is seen in ‘Cómo triunfar en la vida’ (‘How to Succeed in Life’), where the meek and subservient protagonist succeeds ’s expectations.

Luisa Valenzuela*

A full mane of dark hair surrounds her ample smile and keen eyes, which project a passion for life and people. She is constantly observing her immediate and distant surroundings, noting every detail, as would a painter or a photographer. She preserves the soul of a child, curious and free-spirit, yet she is intensely serious, intelligent, and committed to her ideals.

Gwendolyn Díaz: When did you meet Julio Cortázar?

Luisa Valenzuela: When I went to Mexico. My mother * knew him but I did not meet him until after I published ‘El gato eficaz’ (‘Feline Vision’). He liked that book very much and wrote me a wonderful letter about it.

GD: Your work seems to be somewhat influenced by Cortázar, particularly your word games and your penchant for games and playfulness.

LV: Though I think there are some affinities in our work, and I admire Cortázar very much, I did not read ‘Rayuela’ (‘Hopscotch’) until later, after I had begun writing. What is interesting is that we both were affected by Alfred Jarry’s Patafísica concept that proposes a supplementary world to the one we know.

Liliana Heer

Liliana Heer is a petite woman, yet she walks tall and carries herself with poise and self-assurance. Her eyes are inquisitive, and her hair hangs straight. Liliana’s most striking feature is her intense gaze. When she looks at you, she looks beyond you –into the depths of your very soul.

Gwendolyn Díaz: In my view, all of your writing is about power, the abuse of power and its effects…

Liliana Heer: My writing portrays power and its consequences, particularly the abuse and exploitation of others. However, what I intend to show more than anything else is the power of language. Language goes beyond what it is narrating. It belies the very structure of thought. To me, the most powerful moment is when language cuts across the word to find meaning, meaning that goes beyond the word and taps into the very core of the self, bringing forth that which was hidden. Power is in the precise word, in the word that illuminates the dark.

GD: There is a film-like quality in both ‘Frescos de amor’ (‘Frescoes of Love’, 1995) and ‘Ángeles de vidrio’ (‘Glass Angels’, 1998). Would you comment on that?

LH: Both of these novels were written after I began to study cinema. I felt the need to bring into my writing a new dimension, a dimension where image multiplied into other images. I wanted to expand my fictional universe by using techniques like flashback, flash-forward, montage, and others… In these two novels I make a more direct connection between language and image, as if I were writing looking through the eye of a camera.


* Luisa Valenzuela is the daughter of the writer Luisa Mercedes Levinson.