Ana María Shua

Argentina

© Silvio Fabrikant

 

 

 

 

Ana María Shua was born in Buenos Aires in 1951. She studied literature at the University of Buenos Aires and has been working in advertising and as a journalist. Shua’s children books have been a great success in Argentina and Korea and she is regarded as the Queen of Microfiction in the Spanish speaking world. Important literary awards are the recognition of her work. She has been awarded the first Premio Iberoamericano Juan José Arreola in the category of mini-fiction.

In 2016 she was awarded the first Premio Iberoamericano Juan José Arreola in the category of mini-fiction, and the president of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, Estela de Carlotto, awarded Ana María Shua the Democracy in Literature Prize.

 

 

Is it possible for a mother, or a father, to accept that the own daughter is a bad person? This is the great theme of the new novel by Ana Maria Shua, Hija (“Daughter”). Natalia is a beautiful girl with a magical, destructive smile. Through her mother’s eyes, the reader will perceive certain disturbing signals. And yet how can you accuse such a small girl of selfishness, or manipulation? It is obvious that the little girl had nothing to do with the bullying of a sick classmate. Nor the death of her grandfather.

When the couple separate, the mother concentrates all her energy to prevent her daughter feel guilty unfairly. But Natalia does not feel guilty of anything, and she does not mind running over anyone who stands in her way. Interwoven with the story, Shua (herself the mother of three daughters), includes passages from her own diary, sharing her fears and desires as the novel matures.

What does one know about his own children? Are parents guilty of everything their children become? These are some of the dilemmas which this novel poses and does not intend to solve.

 

 

A brilliant family thriller.

La Nación

 

Hija is without doubt one of the best novels by one of the best contemporary Argentinian writers.

En Línea Noticias

 

With deft handling, Shua makes us share the joys and anxieties of motherhood.

Clarín

 

 

Shua’s novel, El peso de la tentación (The Weight of Temptation), is set in the near future and takes on the ever-expanding cult of the body-beautiful and dieting that is gripping the industrialised world.

The life of the 43 year-old main character, Marina, seems to be running smoothly. Nobody suspects that her every waking thought is focused on her next meal, turning daily life into a torment. From her childhood onwards, her relationship with food has been manipulated. On the one hand, her mother has always badgered her to eat well and plenty, but at the same time she wants to have a slim and willowy daughter. By the time she gets married, she has tried out every imaginable form of dieting and therapy. When she has to give up the diet pills for medical reasons, she loses control and puts on more than 30 kilos.

Her husband Tomás loves her all the same, but he has lost his sexual desire for her. So Marina decides to resort to a last-ditch solution: she scrapes together all of her money and goes to the private slimming institute Las Espigas, in full knowledge that she will have to spend at least three months in the institute, fully isolated from the outside world. The methods of the charismatic head of the institute – known to all only as the Professor – are somewhat questionable and do not always respect his patients’ dignity. The educational measures include clamping solitary confinement or torture with electric shocks.

As Marina’s release date approaches, the youngsters attempt a rebellion, and the power relations in the institute are set to be turned upside-down...

In this novel, Shua exposes the background to a vicious circle of hunger and obsessive slimming, to which increasing numbers of people are falling victim, and does so forcefully, with a sense of humour and a good deal of empathy. Here, hunger also stands for unfulfilled wishes, against the backdrop of the question of how free people are, or the extent to which they subjugate themselves to authority or orders.

 

El peso de la tentación is a precise, gracious, acerbic, entertaining novel, the latest in a series of recent texts in which literature is beginning to investigate a disorder whose history is, in many ways, only just beginning.

Patricio Lennard, Página/12

 

 

In her latest volume of microfiction, Fenómenos de circo (“Circus Freaks”), Ana María Shua toys with the fascination of dissimilar sensations like melancholy and astonishment, sadness and enchantment, playing to the readers’ most innate fears and hopes. With her characteristic large doses of irony and imagination, in stories of famous circus artists and events based on true facts Shua combines the world’s paradoxes with the preciseness of language that renders her stories so unique.

 

In this magnificent circus of microfiction, the author hurls round nouns into the air, juggles masterfully with verbs and lashes out with her whip until the words start leaping through rings of fire of their own accord.

Silvina Friera

 

Ana María Shua has written a marvelous book. Her greatest achievement is turning the reader into a privileged spectator as well.

Página 12

 

 

Shua’s novels are a humorous, often sarcastic portrait of the Argentinian society. Her first novel Soy paciente (“I am a Patient” or “I am patient”) describes the daily life in hospital, the miserable standards of health care, and in a sarcastic, ironical way, illustrates the bureaucracy which forces a helpless person to be a patient patient, an exhilarating allegory [...]. A terrific first novel. (Kirkus, 1997). Two of her novels have been made into films, and some of her stories were translated into German, French, English and Dutch.

In 1991 followed the ironic portrait of the Argentinian husband, El marido argentino promedio (“The average Argentinian Husband”) which immediately became a bestseller. The Jewish emigration into the promising New World is the theme of El libro de los recuerdos (“The Book of Memories”), Shua’s third novel, written with a grant from the Guggenheim Foundation. Buenos Aires is also the scenery of Shua’s latest novel La muerte como efecto secundario (“Death as a Side-Effect”), in the year 2002 plus x: However oppressive the scenario may seem, Ana María Shua has nevertheless succeeded in writing an engaging sensitively observed novel about human relationships, about the difficulty of forgiving and the opportunity it offers. With great tenderness the author makes a first-class, vehement, literary plea for the dignity of man as inviolable, always, even in the year 2002 plus x. A shockingly topical book.

 

Such an unusual, great and sometimes disturbing work has not been published in our language for many years.

INTERVIÚ, Spain

 

 

 

 

Rights:

 

Novels:

 

Hija

Buenos Aires: Emecé/Planeta 2016. 250 p.

English sample translation available

Mexico: Axial 2017

 

 

El peso de la tentación

Buenos Aires: Emecé/Planeta, 2007, 266 p.

Serbia: Laguna US: Nebraska Press 2012

 

La muerte como efecto secundario

Buenos Aires: Sudamericana  1997, Emecé/Planeta 2008, 260 p.

Brazil: Globo 2004 France: Folies d’Encre 2013Spain: Sudamericana 2002 US: Nebraska Press 2010

 

El libro de los recuerdos

Buenos Aires: Sudamericana 1994, 200 p.

Italy: Poiesis 2011 Macedonia: Antolog 2014 US: New Mexico Press 1998

 

Soy paciente

Buenos Aires: Losada 1980; Sudamericana 1996, Emecé/Planeta 2010, 134 p.

France: Folies d'encre 2014 Italy: Giunti 1997 US: Latin American Literary Review Press 1997

 

El marido argentino promedio

Buenos Aires: Sudamericana 1992, 215 p.

 

Los amores de Laurita

Buenos Aires: Sudamericana 1984, 196 p.

Film directed by Antonio Ottone 1986

Germany: Peter Hammer 1992, dtv pb 1995 Italy: Semilla

 

 

Short prose (selection):

 

Contra el tiempo

Madrid: Páginas de Espuma 2013, 240 p.

 

Cuidado que hay trampa. Cuentos del mundo sobre trampas y tramposos,

Buenos Aires: Sudamericana 2009, 92 p.                                                           

 

Que tengas una vida interesante

Buenos Aires: Emecé/Planeta 2009, 298 p.

Greece: Nikolopoulos

 

El libro de las mujeres

Buenos Aires: Alfaguara 2005, 531 p.

 

Sabiduría popular judía

Córdoba: Ameghino 1997, 238 p.

Brazil: Relume Dumará 2005

 

Viajando se conoce gente

Buenos Aires: Sudamericana 1988, 142 p.

 

Los días de pesca

Buenos Aires: Corregidor, 1981, 173 p.

 

 

Micro-fiction:

 

Fenómenos de circo

Buenos Aires: Emecé/Planeta 2011, 190 p.

Slovenia: Malinc 2017 Spain: Páginas de Espuma 2011 US: Hanging Loose Press 2012

 

Cazadores de letras. Minificción reunida

Madrid: Páginas de Espuma 2009, 870 p.

Selection:

Iceland: Dimma Indonesia: Marjin Kiri Taiwan: Suncolor 2012 (Incl. Hongkong & Macau) US: University of Nebraska Press/Bison Books 2009

 

Temporada de fantasmas

Madrid: Páginas de Espuma 2004, 132 p.

Argentina: Páginas de Espuma 2015 France: Cataplum 2010

 

Botánica del caos

Buenos Aires: Sudamericana 2000, 245 p.

France: equi-librio 2008, Folies d’Encre 2014 Italy: Oèdipus 2013

 

Casa de geishas

Buenos Aires: Sudamericana 1992, 245 p.

Mexico: Posdata 2011 Spain: Thule Ediciones 2007

 

La sueñera

Buenos Aires: Minotauro 1984, Alfaguara 1996, Emecé/Planeta 2006

Greece: Apopeira

 

 

Participation in anthologies:

Abécédaire incomplet de l'humour juif

France: Folies d’Encre 2011

 

For children (selection):

El país de los miedos perdidos

Buenos Aires: Capital Intelectual 2014, 32 p.

 

El árbol de la mujer dragón

Madrid: Anaya 2013, 152 p.

 

Leyendas latinoamericanas

Buenos Aires: El gato de hojalata 2012, 59 p.

 

Una plaza un poco rara

Buenos Aires: Alfaguara 2008, 25 p.

Illustrations by Luciana Feito

 

Cuentos del mundo

Madrid: Anaya, 2008

France:     Presses Universitaires de Lyon

 

Miedo de noche

Buenos Aires: Sudamericana 2006, 64 p.

 

Caracol presta su casa

Buenos Aires: Sudamericana 2003, 32 p.

Armenia: Librarius 2013 Chile: Random House 2008 US: MacGraw Hill 2007

 

Cuentos judíos con fantasmas y demonios

Mexico-City: Alfaguara 2003, Emecé/Planeta 2011, 152 p.

Selected for the prestigious White Raven catalogue 1995

Brazil: Shalom 1994 Paraguay: Alfaguara 2011

 

La puerta para salir del mundo

Buenos Aires: Sudamericana 1992, 59 p.

Armenia: Librarius 2013 Brazil: Global 2001 Korea: Darim 2006

 

La fábrica del terror

Buenos Aires: Sudamericana 1990, 1996, 114 p.

Korea: Baum Publishing 2005 Mexico: Montena 2008 Spain: Montena 2006

 

Expedición al Amazonas

Buenos Aires: Sudamericana 1988, 2003, 57 p.

Korea: Goodmother 2005