In 2011, the Peruvian Gabriela Wiener (Lima, 1975), a gonzo writer and journalist – it is said that she integrates her own experience in writing – made a decision that would end up being momentous: she went to live in Madrid with her husband, the writer Jaime Rodríguez, and their daughter. Later the family would grow in an unusual way with a new model of marital relationship by incorporating the activist and musician Rocío Bardají, with whom Rodríguez had a son that Wiener also considers his. A three-seater bed and various rooms where to find alternative intimacies are witnesses of a polyamorous experience that the trio even took to a stage. The new life also meant a political awareness for the author and the fruit of this is her new book ‘Huaco portrait’ (Random House Literature), in which the death of the father -a politician and journalist who led a double domestic life- and the figure of the possible great-great-grandfather Charles Wiener, an Austrian in the pay of the French state who looted three thousand huacos -pre-Columbian ceramics- and he even bought an indigenous child that he took to the Universal Exhibition in Paris, in which a human zoo of racialized people was exhibited.
Wiener, with markedly Andean features, ruthlessly explores the contradictions of being a descendant of that white: “This does not want to be a book on political theory but it does embody all the decolonizing theories that emerged when I felt like a migrant in Madrid, after years of wanting to whiten myself, of wanting to fit into a society that was not mine. I have searched for the roots of that discomfort that in the first instance is mine because I am the chola, the brown one, but which is due to a global colonizing wound that implies inequalities & rdquor ;. Wiener knows what she is talking about, not only because in the playground she was mistaken for her own daughter’s caregiver, but also because of the reaction of his wife’s grandmother – both white – who believed she was part of the service staff.
There are two ways that the writer can deal with these ghosts. One is the confrontation with the father and his two parallel families, which she relates to an ‘affair’ she had with a boy in Peru – at some point the crazy idea of a polyamorous four-way relationship crossed her mind: “It was a contradiction like my father’s, trying to fix things to suit me & rdquor ;. The other route climbs to the great-great-grandfather, whose relationship could have something of a family legend. He was a tremendous colonialist disguised as a scientist but also a writer with whom she can identify. “Wiener was an emigrant and a Jew and like me he also tried to save himself from discrimination through writing & rdquor ;.
The political background of the request for forgiveness by the Mexican president López Obrador to the former colonizing countries and the silence in response to the Spanish government, together with the patriotic pride of the colonial symbols that the issue arouses on the Spanish right, make Wiener reflect. Is it any use to ask for forgiveness? “If there are entire communities that feel hurt, listen to them. Does it cost that much? And it is not just about demolishing statues, although the symbolic is important. The reparation has to go further, it would happen by abolishing the immigration law or as my friends from the Ayün collective say: ‘Give us back the gold’. That is, it eliminates the foreign debt to compensate for the plunder that made Spain today can be in the economic North & rdquor ;.
For the author, the weight of the past is still alive in the real isolation of Spain with Latin America: “In my country the relationship with Spain is a central issue, it is part of our couch, we cannot understand ourselves without that moment of violence that was the conquest. When I arrived in Spain, I couldn’t believe my unconcern. Latin America is not at the base of the Spanish understanding of themselves, beyond considering that they have done something beautiful for us like giving us the language and the culture & rdquor ;. Remember the “paternalistic and racist & rdquor; Abascal’s words when he said that the greatest dream of a Latin American was to marry a Spaniard, but the issue, he says, is not exclusive to the extreme right or the right wing. “There are many ‘liberals’ who also believe that this is so, that the people who take care of their children or their grandmother are good savages & rdquor ;.
Accustomed to exposing herself, airing her intimate life, and not keeping silent about her intimate and political ideas – the personal is political – the author admits a rage that has led many to call her “resentful.” Anger has been an impulse to flee the literary world and cultural supplements and decolonolize. All that is humus, the substrate that feeds an unconventional book.
Author: Gabriela Wiener
Editorial: Literatura Random House
179 pages. 17 euros