The short novel o new and the short essay live a greening in Spanish. The motives? The nature of this fast-paced time that encourages dispersion and the need to delve into current issues immediately. In Spain and Latin America this genre, with the longest tradition so far in countries such as France, Italy and Germany, has become a great ally of publishers in times of crisis. Several stamps have emerged from the hand of these books, while others, more outstanding, have created or recovered collections in the same format. Even authors who sustain their prestige in short stories obtain these days relevant awards, such as the Formentor Prize to the Argentine César Aira.
The trend may be due to “the nostalgia for the nucleus, for the compressed, which makes us go back to something closed, compact and limited, in response to the dispersed world that exists on the Internet”, reflects José Ovejero. The Spanish narrator, essayist and poet has done it with Smoke (Gutenberg Galaxy), a novel that takes the pulse of a theme of the present: the survival capacity of isolated people in a cabin that, in the middle of nature, are surrounded by a new reality.
Ofelia Grande, editor of Siruela, believes for her part that they are pieces that function as “an invitation to know a little more about something, which can open many doors, encourage you to read more about that author or the subject in other books.” His label has one of the oldest and most successful collections in this format: Biblioteca de Ensayo / Serie Menor, born in 1994. Thinking and debating about the present is, for its part, the philosophy of the Cuadernos de Anagrama collection, recovered in 2017. Silvia Sesé, its editor, says that this renewed interest is due to “enthusiasm for a very versatile collection to be part of the general conversation on topics of interest”.
Background and form of these books have been merged in Minúscula since 1999. Its manager, Valeria Bergalli, explains: “It is not so much a preference for this format (we also publish extensive books), but we understand that it does not have to be limited to certain texts (like a lecture, a long article, a piece on a current issue) ”. It clarifies that any text can be published like this, also the narrative. Furthermore, he adds, new, for example, sometimes they shine more in all their uniqueness than published together with other texts by the same author ”.
If the analysis that indicates that today more television series are seen than movies is true, the short book comes to fill that same type of inclination
Paca Flores, editor of Periférica
The Spanish market has always made it somewhat more difficult for these works, laments Paca Flores, editor of Periférica, who also opted for short stories from the beginning. It is not clear if it is due “to a question of mistrust or perhaps to the fact that for the same effort it is preferred to focus the energies towards books whose profit margin is more substantial. The fact is that in Spain, until now, it has been seen less as a merit than the opposite ”. Flores goes further: “If the analysis that indicates that today more television series are seen than movies is true, the short book comes to fill that same type of inclination”.
This is confirmed by two of the recent publishing houses that are committed to brevity: Altamarea and Tránsito. The reception, according to the editor of the first, Giuseppe Grosso, is due to the need for immediacy that dominates the present and that “editorially has two advantages: it allows making cheaper books and publishing texts that, due to their length or nature, could not be edited. in another format ”. Added to this is the reader’s fondness for the short book. Sol Salama transfers her preference as a reader to her role as editor of Tránsito: “If I myself, as a reader, pick up few long books, how am I going to choose a long work to publish among the six or seven books that I edit a year?” .
Different creative pulses
But a short book, is it born or is it made? Is it planned that way from the beginning or is it imposed? Mexican Fernanda Melchor signs Paradise (Random House Literature), conceived from the beginning as a short work. In this format he is interested in its forcefulness, “the technical challenge of saying what one wants to say in a reduced space.” “Brevity allows a concentration of form and material that is diluted in longer novels,” he clarifies. “Their clothing rules are different, as is the experience of reading them.”
A short novel is read or should be read with the intensity and trepidation of a short story
Eduardo Halfon, writer
The case of the Guatemalan Eduardo Halfon, who publishes Song (Asteroid Books), it’s different. His novels are usually short without planning. They open themselves up to him as he writes. “The extension is imposed”, reveals Halfon, who in Song He delves into the violent history of his country. He believes that in his case the appellation short novel “is insufficient, even misleading, because it is much closer to the story than to the novel. Not because of the number of pages, but because of its momentum and restraint, because of its efficiency. A short novel is read or should be read with the intensity and trepidation of a story ”.
The Spanish poet Javier Santiso has made his debut in the novel with Live with the heart (La Huerta Grande), 123 pages on Van Gogh. He confesses that he is a great reader of novelists and stylists of the format, such as Pierre Michon, Annie Ernaux or Marie-Hélène Lafon: “I like prose with intensity, that is nitroglycerin, writing with impact, that leaves you lying down and lifts up again. Writing bordering the cliff, with your breath cut off because you run out of breath, because a story, a life, a line, a style, they leave you, that, lying down ”.
This season there is a lot to choose from, with authors such as Edgardo Cozarinsky, Milena Busquets, Chico Buarque, Margarita García Robayo, Luis Felipe Fabre, Fernanda Trías, Alejandro Morellón, Luna Miguel, Esther García Llovet, Julieta Valero, Paula Farias, José Ignacio Carnero … Tutored by two contemporary classics: Albert Camus and the new translation of Abroad and Gabriel García Márquez with 40 years of A Chronicle of a Death Foretold and the 60’s The colonel has no one to write to him: “The colonel uncovered the coffee pot and checked …”.