Cristina Rivera Garza
Cristina Rivera Garza was born in Matamoros, Mexico in 1964. She studied sociology at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México and received a Ph.D. in Latin American history from the University of Houston. She subsequently taught at various universities in the USA and Mexico. After her award-winning literary début, the short story collection »La guerra no importa« (1991; t: War does not matter), she wrote a novel not published at the time – which nevertheless was a finalist for the Premio Juan Rulfo – and a collection of poems »La más mía« (1998; t: The most mine).
The author became well-known with her second novel, »Nadie me verá llorar« (1999; Eng. »No One Will See Me Cry«, 2003). Against the backdrop of dictatorship and revolution in Mexico in the first decades of the twentieth century, it tells the story of Matilda Burgos, a patient at the psychiatric clinic La Castañeda. A photographer working at the institution recognizes Matilda as one of the prostitutes he photographed a few years earlier and falls in love with her. Little by little he reveals the stations of her turbulent past. The novel is based on doctoral research Rivera Garza carried out on the psychiatric clinic and approaches the diagnosis of mental illness as a historical and cultural product. »How we treat our madmen has a lot to say about the society in which we live«, remarks the author. Some of the clinical dossiers, including that belonging to the historical patient Matilda Burgos feature in the book without commentary. Thus fiction and history stand side by side.
The short story collection »Ningún reloj cuenta esto« (2002; t: No watch narrates this) appeared in the same year as Rivera Garza’s third novel, »La cresta de Ilión« (2002; t: Ilion’s crest), which again focuses on madness and death. It depicts the unexpected encounter between an unnamed doctor and two puzzling women – one of whom is the Mexican writer Amparo Dávila – who confront him with a long kept secret.
The author’s particular interest always lies in the inscrutable, which »balks at being recounted«. She does not consider it the author’s duty to convey messages, but rather to open up spaces of uncertainty. In her last novel too, »Lo anterior« (2004; t: The previous), Rivera Garza traces hidden cultural norms and conditions. The author attempts to fathom the processes that precede love. In sparse yet poetic language she brings to light the contents of a note which one of the novel’s characters carries around with him: »Love is always a reflection«.
Rivera Garza most recently published a collection of poems, »Los textos del Yo« (2005; t: Texts of I). She was awarded the Premio José Rubén Romero and the Premio Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz. In 2005 she received the Anna Seghers Prize. The author teaches at the Mexican Tecnológico de Monterrey, Campus Toluca and lives in Metepec.
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