I incorrectly wrote yesterday that Nathalie Handal had nominated a non-Arab for the prestigious Neustadt prize, Chilean writer Diamela Eltit.
Indeed, Nathalie did nominate Diamela Eltit, and yes, Eltit is a Chilean author. However, Eltit is Palestinian-Chilean.
I received a number of corrections (sorry, ya Nathalie!) as well as chidings for not being familiar with Eltit’s work. I am only a little less ignorant this morning, as there is relatively little about Eltit online, and no (free) text of hers that I could find. But she does give a delightful interview, as here with Bomb magazine:
My first novel Lumpérica (1983; E. Luminata, 1997) was not what one would call a transparent work. And, later on, if we are going to discuss the difficulties of inclusion, we would have to talk about the central role of the market—by which I mean the overvaluation of commercial literature, and the way that publishers favor this type of writing. But of course this is a result of the neoliberal hegemony. Beyond the costs, the question in this new media-filled reality is, clearly, how to keep desire alive. It may be that there have always been stumbling blocks in literary creation and that today we are experiencing a change in the technology that drives those stumbling blocks. I don’t know, but it’s possible. I try to think in less functional terms, in terms of desire and of the imagined. The truth is that personally I am horrified—as I would be by a horror movie—by the idea of an official writer. I’m partly ki[ddi]ng when I say this, and I’m caricaturing a bit, but I find the writers who go around proclaiming a series of clichés and banalities to be terribly tragic. They aspire to become portable, recyclable oracles, and in the end they fit perfectly into a market that asks them to furnish more and more truths for their readers.
At least three of Eltit’s books are available in English: Custody of the Eyes, The Fourth World, and Sacred Cow.