The astonishing talent of Argentine women writers belies the struggles they have faced—not merely as overlooked authors, but as women of conviction facing oppression. The patriarchal pressures of the Perón years, the terror of the Dirty War, and, more recently, the economic collapse that gripped the nation in 2001 created such repressive conditions that some writers, such as Luisa Valenzuela, left the country for long periods. Not surprisingly, power has become an inescapable theme in Argentine women’s fiction, and this collection shows how the dynamics of power capture not only the political world but also the personal one. Whether their characters are politicians and peasants, torturers and victims, parents and children, or lovers male and female, each writer explores the effects of power as it is exercised by or against women.
The fifteen writers chosen for Women and Power in Argentine Literature include famous names such as Valenzuela, as well as authors anthologized for the first time, most notably María Kodama, widow of Jorge Luis Borges. Each chapter begins with a “verbal portrait,” editor Gwendolyn Díaz’s personal impression of the author at ease, formed through hours of conversation and interviews. A biographical essay and critical commentary follow, with emphasis on the work included in this anthology. Díaz’s interviews, translated from Spanish, and finally the stories themselves—only three of which have been previously published in English—complete the chapters. The extraordinary depth of these chapters reflects the nuanced, often controversial portrayals of power observed by Argentine women writers. Inspiring as well as insightful, Women and Power in Argentine Literature is ultimately about women who, in Díaz’s words, “choose to speak their truth regardless of the consequences.”
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