“America has been a step ahead of what is happening politically in the world. What we saw in the United States Congress, at Biden’s inauguration, when the hordes tried to prevent it, we saw a few weeks ago in Brasilia, after Lula’s triumph. It’s almost a reproduction. Donald Trump ruled practically by tweeting from the White House and that has been emulated in many other countries, with Bukele (in El Salvador) and Bolsonaro himself (in Brazil). In certain ways, the degradation of contemporary politics we saw first in the United States.
This phenomenon, explains the writer, journalist, economist and political analyst Jorge Zepeda Patterson (Mazatlán, 1952), was the reason for the creation of his new novel El dilema de Penélope (Planeta, 2022), a kind of anticipation of what could happen in the coming years in the neighboring country, with the attempt to return Donald Trump to the White House.
The story is situated in the context of the electoral campaign of the character of former president Dan Thompson, who has made racial hatred and xenophobia his most effective instruments; he has verified the effectiveness of inflaming the hatred and closure of the white population against what he fears. In his “war room,” Thompson puzzles over the most effective ways to ensure his return to the presidency of the United States. It is not surprising that he decides to instill hatred towards Latinos and unleash a series of attacks against the Hispanic community residing in that country.
In this context is Penélope, the daughter of a Mexican mother and a Norwegian father, who has inherited Scandinavian DNA, but her passions, her soul, her identity and her loyalties are Latina. Her coexistence with these two universes makes her, initially involuntarily, a witness to the infamy that is committed against the Hispanic community as a scapegoat for that dark campaign. The fact that Penelope is white allows access to cupolas of power that she would not otherwise have, and from that faculty she decides to try to derail the infamous project that is hatched, even if she has to fight to save her own life. her. Hence her crossroads in a novel that seems hectic.
The dark side of networks
“At this point, any treatment of the political, whether in fiction or non-fiction, has to start from the fact of the enormous influence that social networks have on public discussion and the way in which the conversation is modulated,” he points out. Zepeda Patterson.
“The novel tries to address this from the phenomenon of Donald Trump because his first campaign for the White House, in 2016, prefigured what later became general in the rest of the world: the dark side of social networks that has allowed it to proliferate. In many ways, a speech that is easy to go viral, for the worst reasons: mockery, insults, dirty laundry, scandal, morbid misinformation, etc. All this jumped into politics and people like Donald Trump understood that it was much easier to build a candidacy from the destruction of the opponent, from the defamation of him, than building their own arguments to appeal to the vote ”.
In the bowels of a ‘war room’
The intention with this novel, explains the interviewee, was to get into the bowels of a “war room”, that is, to think about those moments that only happen between walls. And it is, he explains, a kind of continuation of all his narrative work to understand what happens behind the curtains.
“Brainstorms have always been around, of course, the problem is that now, in the context of this electoral politics that tries to smear and resort to muddling, these brainstorms become extremely sinister. Negative campaigns are present like never before in our countries, we have been seeing it in Europe, we see it in Latin America”.
With her journalistic work and as a columnist, Zepeda Patterson has dedicated herself to thinking about and interpreting the confines of politics for public opinion, but, she declares, “there is a limit to what journalism can do, especially due to the codes that oblige to avoid speculation and publish only when there is reliable proof. And sometimes it’s frustrating, because the substantial part of managing power is done in private. Doing journalism is peeking through a keyhole and trying to listen to a few words, to see a piece of the scene. On the other hand, fiction makes it possible to jump over that barrier and a tacit agreement is generated with the reader to understand that this scene did not happen in the world, but that similar cases happen all the time. Fiction has the power to penetrate political reality in another way ”, she concludes.
Other notable books by the author:
The masters of Mexico (Planet, 2007)
The Untouchables (Planet, 2008)
Los corruptores (Planet, 2013)
Milena or the most beautiful femur in the world (Planeta, 2014)
The usurpers (Planet, 2016)
Death against time (Planet, 2018)
- Author: Jorge Zepeda Patterson
- Publisher: Planet
- Year: 2022
- Pages: 328
- Physical book: 348 pesos
- Digital version: 249 pesos
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