Gender, Journeys and Liberation in Cristina Rivera Garza’s Writings

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Read The New Yorker writer’s Merve Emre’s wrestling with gender, journeys and Latin American liberation in Mexican author Cristina Rivera Garza’s latest oeuvre of works within her piece, “Cristina Rivera Garza’s Bodies Politic,” (July 4, 2022).

Read the excerpts from Emre’s piece to better understand how Rivera Garza allows these subjects to intertwine:

In Rivera Garza’s fiction, quests for desirable bodies do not destroy cities. They destroy the identities—man, woman—worshipped by rulers.

The “Torso of Adèle” is among the smallest and most sensual of Auguste Rodin’s partial figures. She has neither head nor legs; her body reclines with its elbows raised and one arm flung across her neck, her back arching into the air. The eye seeks the point that balances her movement. Skimming her breasts, her ribs, her navel, it comes to rest on her iliac crest, the bone that wings its way across the hip. “From there, from Ilion, from her crest, Odysseus departed on his return to Ithaca after the war,” thinks the narrator of “The Iliac Crest” (2002), the second novel by the Mexican-born writer Cristina Rivera Garza. To his wandering mind, “Iliac” summons Ilion, Homer’s Troy—a city destroyed because one selfish man desired one beautiful woman.

The mystery and obscurity that envelop Rivera Garza’s fiction caress both gender and genre, words with a shared etymology. In “The Iliac Crest,” gothic shades into noir, noir into fable, with fable climaxing in the metafiction cherished by Nabokov, Calvino, and Borges. Trapped in the undertow of this procession, it is easy to forget what prompted the narrator’s quest in the first place: the name of the hip bone. It appears only on the novel’s final page, when such cruel, inexplicable things have passed between him and his various Amparo Dávilas that the word “iliac” clarifies nothing. It hangs before us, flush with the deferred promise of some ruinous or transcendent revelation. “I smiled upon remembering, too, that the pelvis is the most definitive area to determine the sex of an individual,” the narrator thinks, with irony. Nothing is definitive anymore, least of all the relationship between anatomy and gender.

Read the complete piece here.


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