Leila Guerriero: “You don't have to put yourself in someone else's shoes, you have to compare what counts” | Culture | EUROtoday

Get real time updates directly on you device, subscribe now.

“There are always insecurities and doubts about whether the book will come out, but at the same time you are certain that it will happen. It's a bit paradoxical,” explains EL PAÍS writer and columnist Leila Guerriero to around twenty subscribers of the newspaper, confidants of the author for a while. This group of readers, who participated in the EL PAÍS + activities program, went to the Josefita bar, in Madrid, to chat with her about her latest novel, The call, a meticulous portrait of the activist Silvia Labayru, kidnapped during the Argentine dictatorship.

Before a group of readers of diverse ages and origins, Guerriero explained the writing process and allowed them to peek behind the scenes of the creative work. “The book had to have a dynamism. For me it is not trivial to think about these aspects when writing about a topic like this. “It all depends on the words,” he famous. For the writer, there are elements of the narrative that require “more intense prose” in order that readers understand it in a vivid approach.

With that desire, he included a paragraph repeatedly throughout the story, an element that is part of the book's own structure, something that, as he remembers with a laugh, led some readers to warn him that it was repeated. The audience listens while they serve themselves an omelet or grab another beer, and nod, absorbed, as Guerriero tells how he met with the protagonist of the book for a year and seven months, while awaiting the sentence of the first trial for crimes of sexual violence committed against kidnapped women. during the Argentine dictatorship, in which Labayru was a whistleblower.

“There were many interviews and very long ones and, to go a little further, I was never in a hurry,” he explained. A reader asked her how she decided it was time to start writing and end those conversations. “One has to start saying goodbye. Sometimes I kept looking for things and found the same thing; that could be a sign. It is very possible that you believe that there is something where there is nothing. And there may also be fatigue on the part of the interviewer,” explained the author.

After the interviews, it was time to confront all the information collected. In this case, Guerriero dedicated himself to writing itself from December 2022 to March 2023. He had more than 90 hours of transcriptions of his meetings with Silvia Labayru, which were translated into 1,930 printed pages, but he also had videos, judicial cases… Before sitting down to write, she spent a week or two reading everything so that the story was “very alive” within her. Something similar has happened to one of the attendees: “In 15 days I have not rested because I have not stopped thinking about the story.”

A couple of attendees asked him how he thinks the book's reception has been in his native Argentina and whether he considers that a text like this was necessary. “I didn't do it because I felt that nothing was necessary, but to tell her story,” stated the author, who assured that, although it may have sparked a certain conversation in the country, “it is a book that does not exercise moral judgment” and the public He has read it with unprejudice, understanding that there are nuances, black and white, and that it does not end with a conclusion about “who are the good guys and who are the bad guys.” “The book admits a shaky zone,” she added.

As an interviewer, she assures that her work with the protagonist is proscribed to “listening to the story, thinking about the impact it may have on that person… You can get her to talk about things she didn't know she knew. It's about having a lot of sensitivity, but not giving in, for example, to euphoria, and being clear about your role.” Guerriero added: “You don't have to put yourself in the other's place, you have to compare (what counts). For me that barrier is very clear.”

Between the noise of the espresso maker and the bottles and forks selecting the tables, EL PAÍS readers requested Guerriero how he prevented “getting into the rough stuff.” “If I don't know how to ask about something or there is modesty, I work on it and don't allow that problem of mine to spread. What did happen is that I didn't ask any questions at any time. Although she was willing to talk, it was when there was solid ground and it was very clear that I was not subjecting her to an interrogation when I asked about some things. When the conversation happens, it happens,” defined the author.

All the tradition that goes with you awaits you right here.



The literary information analyzed by the perfect critics in our weekly publication