KOCHI: The inspiration fuelled by the Cuban Revolution and the Latin American Boom has vanished and Mexicans are struggling to uphold their identity in the face of an incursion of American capitalism, says Mexican independent publisher and writer Eduardo Rabasa.
The 40-year-old writer is the co-founder of Editorial Sexto Piso, an independent publisher launched in Mexico in 2002. He was in Kochi to participate in the International Literary Festival organised as part of the Krithi International Book Festival. He shares with The New Indian Express his literary thoughts and views on the challenges faced by Latin American writers in the post-revolution age.
Q: The influence of the Cuban Revolution and Latin American Boom has vanished and there has been a resurgence in Mexican literature. What factors have influenced the new generation of writers?
A: The generation of Leftist writers drew inspiration from the Cuban revolution and the Latin American Boom ushered in an age of magical realism in Latin American literature. This influence has vanished and Latin American literature has become cosmopolitan.
The influence of American capitalism has changed the outlook of writers. The Boom writers tried to reflect a microcosm of the society. The current writers have switched their focus to the realities in everyday life. There has been a shift. The canvas has become smaller.
Q: The new generation of Mexican writers have succeeded in attracting readers across the globe. What inspired the change?
A: In 2006, the government launched a drive against the drug mafia and a civil war-like situation evolved. Around one lakh people were killed. It was the most violent period in Mexico’s history. The writers have been influenced by the destruction it caused and the migration of people to America. We can’t say literature has become political but the writers’ thoughts have been influenced. You can’t escape reality. The anger and the frustration of people has been reflected in the literary works.
Q: Do you think Leftist ideology has failed to fulfil people’s aspirations?
A: I would say yes. It has failed to do so, which has led to a state of anarchy in the country. Nobody believes in the law. People have been disenchanted. The traditional Left has aligned with the Right wing and the difference between capitalism and leftist ideology has been obscured. The writers have the courage to question the system, but nobody tries to identify themselves with any ideology.
Q: We have a Leftist government in Kerala.
A: Really? Are they radical? I believe they haven’t abolished the right to private property (sic). In Mexico, there are no communists left. Our politicians get educated in America and are influenced by American capitalism. Entire Latin America, even Cuba, has changed. It is very difficult to find a person who believes in Leftist ideology, except the indigenous people. But they are just 5 per cent of the population
Q: Do you think the Mexican society has lost the Leftist values?
A: No. The presidential elections are scheduled in June and the frontrunner Andrés Manuel López Obrador, popularly known as AMLO, is a Leftist. Some sections of Mexican society believes he is the Mexican version of Hugo Chavez. He is pragmatic and even Leftists criticise him for his liberal outlook.
Q: As a publisher, how do you see the prospects of literature in Mexican society?
A: It is not encouraging. People read only 3.5 books a year. The influence of corporate publishing houses is very high and survival is a challenging task for individual publishers like me. It is tough for even quality books to get a market. About 50-60 per cent of the publications are Spanish translations.