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Valenzuela, Luisa (1938–)

Valenzuela, Luisa (1938–)

Luisa Valenzuela (b. 26 November 1938), Argentine writer. The daughter of Argentine writer Luisa Mercedes Levinson, Valenzuela was born in Buenos Aires and grew up in Corrientes and Buenos Aires, which provided settings for her later fiction. She began her writing career as a journalist for the newspaper La Nación and published her first short story at age seventeen. Between 1956 and 1961 she lived in France, where she wrote her first novel, which was published in 1966. But it was with the publication of Hay que sonreír (One Has to Smile, 1966) and a collection of short stories, Los heréticos (1967), that she was recognized as a promising young writer. In 1969 she won a Fulbright scholarship to participate in the International Writers Workshop at the University of Iowa, where she wrote El gato eficaz (1972), a novel in which language rather than characters is the central concern. Later, she traveled throughout Mexico and became interested in Mexican indigenous cultures. She used some of these experiences in writing the stories in Donde viven las águilas (Where Eagles Live, 1983). During 1972 Valenzuela lived in Barcelona, where she wrote Como en la guerra (1977). This novel also centers on language and surrealistic experiences.

Returning to Argentina, Valenzuela wrote Aquí pasan cosas raras (Strange Things Happen Here, 1975). When she felt that the military government threatened her well-being, she moved to New York City. During her sojourn in the United States, some of her works were translated into English. She was featured in popular magazines like Time side-by-side with other well-known Latin American writers, and in 1986 the Review of Contemporary Fiction, a scholarly journal published in the United States, dedicated an issue to Valenzuela's fiction. El libro que no muerde (1980) and Cambio de armas (Other Weapons, 1982) were written during this time. The latter is a collection of five lengthy short stories in which Valenzuela's fiction reaches depth and maturity, where female and male sexuality represents the warped and misunderstood relationship between men and women, who are witness to the disintegration of a reality in which they are victims and victimizers.

In 1983 Valenzuela went back to Argentina, where she published a novel on the political manipulations and sorceries of José López Rega, a picturesque and macabre member of the cabinet of the last Peronist regime, titled Cola de lagartija. Two subsequent novels also deal with Argentina's reality, Novela negra con argentinos (Gothic Novel with Argentines, 1990) and Realidad nacional desde la cama (National Reality from the Bed, 1990). In 1991, the Brazilian Academy of Letters awarded her the Machado de Assis medal. In 2001, she published La traviesa, Peligrosas palabras and Los deseos oscuros y los otros. Cuadernos de Nueva York. A general anthology of her work, Trilogía de los bajos fondos appeared in 2004. She has resided in Buenos Aires since 1989.

See alsoLevinson, Luisa Mercedes .


Sharon Magnarelli, Reflections/Refractions: Reading Luisa Valenzuela (1988).

Victoria Guest, Reweaving the Violated Narrative (1990).

Juanamaría Cordones-Cook, Poética de transgresión en la novelística de Luisa Valenzuela (1991).

Additional Bibliography

Bilbija, Ksenija. Yo soy trampa: Ensayos sobre la obra de Luisa Valenzuela. Buenos Aires: Feminaria Editora, 2003.

Craig, Linda. Juan Carlos Onetti, Manuel Puig and Luisa Valenzuela: Marginality and Gender. Rochester, NY: Tamesis, 2005.

Medeiros Lichem, María Teresa. La voz femenina en la narrativa latinoamericana: Una relectura crítica. Santiago, Chile: Editorial Cuartopropio, 2006.

                             Magdalena GarcÍa Pinto

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