María Sonia Cristoff
María Sonia Cristoff was born in Trelew, Patagonia, in 1965 as the daughter of Bulgarian immigrants. She studied Languages and Literature in Buenos Aires and held a scholarship from the Fondo Nacional de las Artes. She writes for various periodicals – »La Nación« and »Neue Zürcher Zeitung« among them – and literary magazines; and teaches Patagonian Literature and Creative Writing at Universidad Tres de Febrero, Buenos Aires.
»Falsa calma. Un recorrido por pueblos fantasma de la Patagonia« (tr. Deceptive calm. A journey through ghost towns in Patagonia) appeared in 2005. In its reportages about this southernmost part of South America, the author does not stick to touristy postcard idylls, like the British writer Bruce Chatwin painted; instead, she shows bluntly, but never disrespectfully, how the exhaustion of the deposits of the oil that had temporarily brought progress to the country has consequences for people to this day. Those who have not gone away are nostalgic for the past and use alcohol to drown their desperation over a life in poverty and isolation. Cristoff’s achievement as a chronicler consists in eliciting from the people among whom she grew up not only their worries, but also their dreams, whereby she also reveals her own associations. In 2006, she published the prose work »Desubicados« (tr. Misfits), in which, letting her thoughts roam free when viewing the animals on visits to the Buenos Aires zoo, she reflects on the coincidences between the way people live in a Latin American metropolitan city and animals live in the zoo. A review remarked on this: »The author sets her deep admiration for the dignity of the animals in bewitching words that echo long afterward.« Cristoff’s first novel, »Bajo influencia« (2010; tr. Under the influence), depicts the self-proclaimed artist Cecilio meeting the introverted Tonia, the daughter of a gallery owner, in Buenos Aires. Cristoff uses this story also to satirically illuminate the relationship between being and seeming in the art market. Most recently, Cristoff published the novel »Inclúyanme afuera« (2014; tr. Include Me Out), which follows the steps of a simultaneous interpreter who leaves everything behind to start a new life as an anonymous museum guard in the provinces. Literary critic Beatriz Sarlo chose it the best fiction book published in Argentina during 2014.
María Sonia Cristoff lives in Buenos Aires.