Jeffery Dingler interviews writer Gloria Fortún
Photos: J. Dingler
There is a new collection of short stories hitting the bookstores of Madrid. La nueva mujer is a collection of 10 American stories by early feminist authors such as Kate Chopin, Willa Cather and Susan Glaspell. This is a sparkling array of early-twentieth century stories that, with the exception of Chopin and Cather, have never been translated into Spanish before.
Recently the book’s translator, Gloria Fortún, held a discussion at Fundación Entredós, a feminist organization in Puerta de Sol. For a group of bookworms, it was a surprisingly lively bunch with questions ranging from autobiographical content in the tales to the themes of American authors to the difficulty of translating from English to Castellano. Luckily, I got a chance to sit down with Gloria afterwards and ask her a few questions about her new book.
JEFF: Hey, Gloria, thanks for sitting down with me. My first question is why does a Spanish-speaking audience need these stories by American feminist authors?
GLORIA: First of all, because the literary canon needs to include women. The universal literary canon has a lot of silences, the Spanish one as well, and we need to discover what is in those silences. And I think that American literature is incomplete without these women—they are very important. And then for the Spanish audience, these are short stories and people live very fast lives so short stories are very nice, and people like all things American in Spain. Except Trump. (Laughs) And the 19th century is something that I think sells well.
JEFF: What themes from the American stories translate well for a Spanish audience? What themes might surprise them?
GLORIA: The universal themes that affect all women in the world like marriage and motherhood; those would be perfectly received here. And then surprising themes like the Native Americans. And for example, the Spanish feminist movement is a late bloomer. It only started in the late 20th century. So seeing suffragist, reading about them, I think it’s very interesting. But I think that the female themes could be relatable here.
JEFF: Would you consider Madrid a literary hub? If so, how would you describe the literary scene here?
GLORIA: Yes, Madrid is a very literary city! It has lots of literary events throughout the year, such as two second-hand bookstores fairs in Paseo de Recoletos, the annual Feria del Libro in Retiro at the end of May, the new Feria del Libro de Otoño in Plaza Mayor, the Festival Eñe which has just finished, with lots of bookish events. There is always a book presentation to go to, a poetry reading… Many of the Spanish publishing houses are based in Madrid, such as the one who published La nueva mujer, Editorial Dos Bigotes.
JEFF: Is the publishing community big enough here to support lots of new writers, or is it a struggle? How do you define success as a writer here?
GLORIA: On one hand, it is great to be a writer in Madrid. There are lots of cozy cafes with Wi-Fi where you can write for hours, the weather is really nice and you can also write in the bar terraces. You can find lots of writing workshops, writing groups. On the other hand, being an aspiring writer is always hard, wherever you live. It is not only a question of talent but also a matter of luck. To me, being successful as a writer in a big, noisy and busy city like Madrid is being able to find the time and the peace to finish my writing projects!
This concludes my interview with Gloria Fortún. But please check out La nueva mujer. The first print run has already sold out!
Jeff Dingler is a writer and actor who has won several awards including B-Metro’s B-published fiction contest (2015) for his short story “For Fred with the Rose-Colored Smile” as well as scholarships to the New York State Summer Writers Institute (2015 and 2017). He graduated summa cum laude from Skidmore College and Wallace State Community College. He lives in Saratoga Springs, NY but has recently relocated to Madrid which may or may not be on a temporary basis.