Federico Jeanmaire

Argentina

© Silvia Baigorrí

 

 

Federico Jeanmaire was born in 1957 in Baradero, in the province of Buenos Aires. He studied humanities at the University of Buenos Aires, where he later taught Argentine Literature. His particular area of research was the Spanish Siglo de Oro. His novel Miguel, a fictional autobiography about Cervantes, came second in the Premio Herralde de Novela in 1990. In 2003 his novel Mitre received the Premio Consagración Ricardo Rojas, alongside the Premio Nacional one of Argentina's most important literary prizes. In 2008 his novel Vida Interior received the Premio Edhasa and in 2009 Más que el Aire Livano (Lighter Than Air) won the Premio Clarín, the literature prize in Argentina with the highest sales impact. In 2014, West German Broadcasting Cologne adapted this novel as a successful radio programme.

 

 

The dwarves Perico and Milagro make a living as strippers. Their number in the bar, based around Perico’s big penis, becomes the most successful of the programme. With the money they earn, they start to build houses forming a community of dwarves. The most important rule is that no one taller than 147cm can enter the neighbourhood. One of them, Cristina, begins to have a sexual relationship with both Perico and Milagro.

Everything seems to go so well that they conclude that they can put on their show in their neighbourhood. Their admirer, the very attractive and tall journalist Eliana, supports them at first, until a democratic vote of the community decides that she must also pay to see the show. Eliana pays but never returns. Where she does continue to appear – entering against the community’s most important rule – is in Perico’s bed, and when Cristina discovers this, it causes a scandal that the journalist will end up paying for with her life.

Amores enanos ("Dwarf Loves") is a novel about love and sex, about solitude and isolation, about jealousy, and about guilt that shows how strength of passion is not measured in metres or centimetres. A text that forces us to look at ourselves from a different point of view, but also a story to amuse the reader.

 

 

Required reading for thinking about the new Argentine narrative.

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Federico Jeanmaire has been building one of the most solid and sure-footed works of Latin American literature.

Perfil

 

Dwarf Loves is one of those very few novels - compared to all that one has read - that I have dealt in one go, that is, closing it only once. (…) The dwarves will dominate the earth by doing 'striptease': the funniest novel of the year!

El confidencial, Alberto Olmos

 

 

 

Fifteen-year-old Lin Su Nuam, the protagonist of Jeanmaire latest novel Tacos altos (“High Heels”), has been living with her grandparents in China for several months. Although her family comes from the Chinese city of Suzhou, Su Nuam has spent ten years in Argentina, where her father ran a market stall selling food. Su Nuam loves Spanish and uses it to write her diary after her return. She lost her father in an attack by local Argentines on the Chinese immigrants’ market. After that, the girl returned alone to her home country. But the Chinese traditions she encounters, exemplified by her grandparents, seem rather strange to her. The role of women, embodied her grandmother always standing in the shadow of her grandfather, makes it difficult for Su Nuam to feel that she belongs in China. She would like to leave school and work. When she gets an offer from a Chinese gas company to go to Buenos Aires as an interpreter, she hesitates because the shock of her father's death is connected to the city. Finally she decides to travel with her grandfather, who wants to visit the grave of his son and accompanies her as a minor. During the negotiations in Buenos Aires it is clear that Su Nuam’s new employers do not want to use her as the official interpreter, but rather as a spy, to pass on the private discussions of their Argentine business partner. However her initial disappointment about the deception is mitigated by an unexpected opportunity to avenge the death of her father, through a contract murder. And so Su Nuam suddenly faces a moral decision, made easier by her grandfather who advises always to exercise justice.

With the simple words of a fifteen-year-old, Jeanmaire deals with some great themes of humanity: history, migration, loss, revenge, the clash of cultures. The question of belonging, the issue of opposing images of women, the corrupt nature of international economic relations and the conflict between tradition and progress flow together through the lovingly created figure of Su Nuam. The world language of Spanish brings together Argentina and China in this exceptional work of an imaginative and talented author. Tacos altos is an original, densely atmospheric and exciting book.

 

 

In Más liviano que el aire (“Lighter Than Air") an excess of confidence was the thief’s downfall. Or perhaps the impetuousness of adolescence. He's only fourteen, and the old woman he intends to burgle, ninety-three. In theory, nothing can go wrong. But it goes wrong. Before the young man can say “knife”, he is locked in the bathroom with the elderly woman on the other side of the door. He will now have to hear the story of a life that is coming to an end. His voice does not matter. The woman’s hour to speak has come, and she must be reckoned with. Más liviano que el aire is a brilliant coup: Federico Jeanmaire masterfully builds an unforgettable monologue. Hilarious and dramatic, of dazzling intensity. A great novel that surprises to the last page.

 

 

Clearly tragedy is never far away. This is the strength of this strange and cruel novel.

Paris Match

 

Each page traps you ever more within the fascinating web of Jeanmaire’s narrative mastery.

Rosa Montero

 

 

 

Rights

 

 

Novels:

Amores enanos

Barcelona: Anagrama 2016, 187 p.

Secon Place in the Anagrama Award for Novel 2016

 

Tacos altos

Barcelona: Anagrama 2016, 166 p.

German: Unionsverlag 2018

 

Más liviano que el aire                                   
Buenos Aires: Alfaguara 2009; Edhasa 2014, 238 p.
Barcelona: Edhasa 2016
Premio Clarín de Novela 2009
35,000 copies sold in Spanish language 

France: Editions Joëlle Losfeld (Gallimard) 2011 German: Unionsverlag Greece: Opera 2016 Lebanon: Masaa (Arabic)

 

La guerra civil

Buenos Aires: Seix Barral 2014, 223 p.

 

Las madres no les decimos esas cosas a las hijas

Buenos Aires: Seix Barral 2012, 212 p.

 

Fernández mata a Fernández

Buenos Aires: Alfaguara 2011, 200p.

 

Montevideo

Buenos Aires: Norma 1997, 198 p.; Buenos Aires: Seix Barral 2009, 203 p.

 

Vida interior

Buenos Aires: Emecé 2008, 237 p.

France: Editions Joëlle Losfeld (Gallimard) 2013

 

La patria

Buenos Aires: Seix Barral 2006, 207 p.

 

Países bajos

Buenos Aires: Seix Barral 2004, 239 p.

 

Papá

Buenos Aires: Sudamericana  2003; Edhasa 2015, 170 p.

 

Una virgen peronista

Buenos Aires: Norma 2001, 260 p.

 

Los zumitas

Buenos Aires: Norma 1999, 110 p.

 

Mitre

Special Prize Ricardo Rojas for the best Argentine novel

Buenos Aires: Norma 1998; Seix Barral 2005, 211 p.

 

Prólogo anotado

Buenos Aires: Sudamericana 1993, 198 p.

 

Miguel

Barcelona: Anagrama 1990, 2016, 207 p.

 

Desatando casi los nudos

Buenos Aires: Halmargen Editora 1986; Seix Barral 2007, 181 p.

 

Un profundo vacío en el pie izquierdo

Buenos Aires: Latinoamericano 1984, 79 p.

 

 

Essays:

Acerca de los comienzos

(In: Cómo se empieza a escribir una narración)

Buenos Aires: Libros del Rojas 2006

 

Una lectura del Quijote

Buenos Aires: Seix Barral 2004, 254 p.

 

Borges: el ensayo como ficción personal

(In: Borges)

Buenos Aires: Biblioteca del Congreso de la Nación 1998

 

Manon Lescaut, una novela de lo más exagerada

(In: Manon Lescaut)

Bogotá: Norma 1997

 

 

Participation in Antholgies:

El título 

(In: Los días que vivimos en peligro)

Buenos Aires: Emecé 2009

 

Cólera 

(In: Nuevos pecados capitales)

Buenos Aires: Norma 2001

 

Finde 

(In: Terror)

Buenos Aires: Planeta 2012

 

 

Others:

Prólogo al Martín Fierro 

Buenos Aires: Alfaguara 2006

 

El ingenioso hidalgo don Quijote de la Mancha 

Buenos Aires: Emecé 2005