At the beginning of 2020, filming began for the miniseries El reino, written by Claudia Piñeiro and directed by Marcelo Piñeyro. Then the pandemic came and Argentina, like Chile, went into absolute confinement. When they resumed filming, it was under the strictest security measures.
The author remembers that in September of that year she went to visit the recording set. “They dressed me as a NASA astronaut, with a chinstrap and also goggles. At one point I see a little fly and I thought ‘what a bad luck that it got trapped when I put everything on it’.
It was there all the time, but when I took off my clothes and got back to the car, the fly was still there, and I said: ‘what is this?’”, he recalls. “This” is a fairly common condition, she found out later, and consists of small spots in the vision that are caused by the accumulation of dead cells and are called “floaters”. It’s nothing serious and most people get used to them even until they stop seeing them.
Claudia decided to transfer this new partner to Inés Pereyra, or Experey, the protagonist from El tiempo de las moscas (Alfaguara, 2022), a title that since October has been among the best sellers in Argentina, and which is also the continuation of Tuya, the first novel by Piñeiro, and also a bestseller, published in 2005.
The plot of this detective story, or tragicomic thriller, showed a married woman with a life based on appearances who insists on discovering her husband’s affair, which ends with a homicide and the protagonist in prison. In 2015, Tuya became a film directed and adapted by Edgardo Gonzalez, with performances by Juanita Viale, Jorge Marrale, and Andrea Pietra.
In a Zoom conversation, the writer confesses that it had not occurred to her to return to that story. Among other reasons, because the main character was in jail and to make a prison novel, such an unknown and particular reality, she felt that she had to internalize in a special way.
But a few years ago a friend of his, the writer and academic Guillermo Martínez, went to teach at an American university and brought three Latin American novels, one of them was Tuya. When he returned, he told Claudia: “You have to continue with this character. Like Patricia Highsmith with the Talented Mister Ripleythat one wants to know how he is going to get away from his crimes ”.
“He left the bar very high for me (laughs). I didn’t take the idea from her either, but she kept me going around and during the pandemic, she reappeared. I calculated that in the time that had elapsed and with good behavior, Inés could have already been released from prison and I began to get excited about the idea of a woman who has to reintegrate into society and earn a living, something she had never done before because she depended on her husband. But, in addition, and it was what interested me the most, facing a world that had radically changed in terms of the situation of women. Because in Tuya, which I wrote 17 years ago, she was a macho woman who said things that could even make people laugh, the novel has humor, but today, over the years, it’s not even funny anymore because one learned that in some of those jokes and sayings are built realities. It’s like a person was asleep and woke up in a different world”, explains Piñeiro.
The time of the flies begins when Inés is released from jail. A year later, she and her friend, “la Manca”, also an ex-convict, set up a double company, which on the one hand is dedicated to ecological pest control and on the other provides private investigation services. That’s what she’s doing, pulling off a new life, when she receives a tempting assignment that could get her into trouble again.
Interspersed with the chapters that give shape to this adventure of connecting the dots, are passages where the voices of women are read giving their opinions about the plot and the characters, but also debating current issues such as feminism, motherhood, work and romantic love, among others. .
“I thought of it as the chorus of Greek tragedies representing the community and commenting on what’s going on while moving on to general themes that have to do with women. There are more extreme positions and others that are softer. I saw that in the women’s assemblies in Argentina when in 2018 we began to work on the approval of the Law on the voluntary interruption of pregnancy. I participated in many women’s assemblies, there were older women, whom we call the historical ones, some of whom even came with a cane, and also adolescent girls. They all had the right to speak and be heard, for me the choir has that heterogeneity and democratization of the word that seems very interesting to me to think about politics”, rescues the writer.
On these pages there are quotes from recognized and current authors, such as Judith Butler or Rita Segato, but also anonymous ones.
back to the flies
In addition to the black speck that settled in his vision, another coincidence caused Piñeiro to make flies one of the axes of his new novel. Several of his books have a crime novel line, he points out, which is why he likes to investigate forensic and crime issues. criminologyeven if you don’t use research specifically afterwards.
“I have taken courses in forensic techniques. And when we were in the pandemic, lots of alternatives came out via Zoom, here in Argentina many made sourdough, for example, but at the University of Río Negro a class on forensic entomology was opened, that is, insects applied to reveal issues that They have to do with crimes. I found the mixture of life and death fascinating. To top it off, it was given by an academic named Pereyra, just like the protagonist. Between the fly in the eye and the real flies, the novel began to come together for me, ”she says.
In addition to scientific information on the types of flies that exist and their functions, he also cites their presence in literature, from William Golding’s Lord of the Flies to a play by Sartre, The Flies. “I love that there are people who read the book and tell me that they no longer want to kill flies, there are also readers who have brought me impressive papers”, he confided.
Another of the great themes that the book addresses is that of motherhood: “In this second part, unlike the first where the protagonist pretended and kept up appearances, but did not find out what was happening with her daughter, in the second On the other hand, Inés assumes that she did not feel the desire to be a mother, and sincerely she can only do something for that bond. For some, the fact that a woman does not want to assume motherhood is something reprehensible, I do not share that, but for a long time she was seen as a freak or a shame. Luckily she put that aside.”
And there is also the mark that leaves a crime committed, the writer points out. “There is a debt from society towards people in prison, because they are promised that, after being tried and sentenced, they will spend so many years in prison and when they are released they will be reintegrated into society. That many times does not happen; because of prejudices and because the prison service, at least in Argentina, is not prepared to help these people. If at a dinner they tell you that the person in charge was in prison for so many years for killing someone, I imagine everyone gets goosebumps. I don’t know how these marks are resolved, I don’t have an answer, but at least we can think about it”.
the foreboding realm
The author says she is infinitely grateful to the readers who have her in number 1. She explains that Yours is a book that is read a lot in secondary schools and she wanted to answer many of those young people when they asked her what happened next. But she also likes the contemporaneity of El tiempo de las moscas: “There are topics that are not closed, discussions that are still open and that make us reflect. We must ask ourselves: ‘What do we do with this?’ And from my point of view, the worst thing is to exclude people”.
The possibility of this novel reaching the screen is high. In fact, Piñeiro says that Netflix had already bought the rights to Tuya to make a series and that an alternative would be to continue with El tiempo de las moscas. That would be under evaluation. “I don’t think about it when I write, but an audiovisual project is always interesting because it is a new reading. When I started writing Tuya, I was doing a script course, but an internal monologue started to appear that later became a novel and I became a writer”.
Meanwhile, the second season of El reino, the series that premiered in August 2021 on Netflix and that shows how an evangelical pastor, played by Diego Peretti, becomes a candidate for the presidency of Argentina, is already in the last stage. post-production and its launch will soon be defined for the beginning of 2023.
“It’s tremendous because with Marcelo (Piñeyro) it already happened to us in the first season that we sent each other notes from the newspapers: ‘I want to kill myself because that’s what we wrote a week ago.’ And in this second season, the world, but especially Latin America, does not stop spoiling us. Antonio Tabucchi said that we writers have our antennas up very high, it’s not that we anticipate, but what’s on the air we lower at the moment, as it happens. And the magical realism of García Márquez, we Latin Americans know that here it is realism”.
No to cancellation, yes to doubt
“I do not write with inclusive language, but I am worried about naming all the people and there are universal masculine words that I consider no longer name all the people. Without using inclusive language I try to turn the sentence around. I didn’t have that effort and awareness before, ”she comments on the new languages, which both she and the protagonist of the book must assume.
Claudia Piñeiro is a strong voice on issues such as feminism and women’s rights, she is also an active tweeter, which sometimes leads her to get involved in controversies. One of the last occurred regarding the revocation of the contract by the Almadía publishing house to the Colombian writer Carolina Sanín for her statements against trans women. Some Argentine authors, such as Mariana Enríquez, Alexandra Kohan and Piñeiro herself, criticized the decision, which led to attacks on social networks.
“I do not agree with the cancellation at all and it seems to me that all people have to express themselves. For me trans people are totally part of feminism. But if a person thinks otherwise, I think she can say so. What happens is that sometimes saying that includes hidden hate messages and you have to be careful. As a writer, I defend the expression and that it cannot be censored or cancelled, but I also understand that there are issues where it is not so clear,” she says.
And he adds: “If someone says that Hitler should come back, we know that this is inadmissible, no one questions it, but regarding other issues, sometimes we doubt and I think that this should also allow those who feel uncomfortable to complain. One has to use critical thinking, accepting all voices, but being very attentive because some hide discrimination”.
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