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Elvira Lindo: “We spend our lives forgiving our parents. And our children forgiving us."


The writer's new novel moves between childhood trauma and redeeming love. 'In the lion's den' resorts to the tone of a fable to talk about everything we always wanted to keep quiet

One of the great qualities of the story is the ability to hold information in a beautiful, enveloping way, and thus express much more in what is silent than in what is said.

And it is what Elvira Lindo embraces in her new novel,

En la boca del lobo,

a plot that progresses without respite and without us ever having enough data because the author doses emotions until she develops an emphatic atmosphere close to the storytelling tradition.

Pure emotional suspense.

“The moment children stop fearing the authority of their parents, it is the parents who begin to fear their children”, is one of the premises of the novel.

And it is that Julieta, an 11-year-old girl, arrives at her mother's town with her and with a suitcase of secrets that will be administered to us little by little, from different times, ages and different perspectives, until everything acquires meaning in the literary and the vital.

For this, Lindo has recreated a town in the Valencian region of Ademuz, a place of perpetual return for her in her nomadic childhood and which here acquires mythical features.

The author, born in Cádiz 61 years ago, chats with


about her new novel.

“I am not nostalgic, but the only time I felt nostalgic was as a child, when we went to this region between transfers and I found a mysterious and beautiful place.

The field is a place of games in freedom where at the same time you feel protected by an extended family.

I wanted to stay there,” says Lindo.

His protagonist also wants to stay among those forests, not only to spend the summer holidays, but a life that leaves behind the shadow of the nightmares that we will discover.

This place, its nature, its traditions and its language is the setting chosen to sow a narrative artifact that sinks its roots in that storytelling tradition and that germinates in a powerful story of helplessness.

“This novel is born from three things: from that environment,

Elvira Lindo, a jazz fan, plays a record by saxophonist Dexter Gordon at her home in Madrid.


Let's go in parts.

Elvira Lindo, who in her latest novel undressed her parents' relationship to draw an autobiographical portrait of her generation

(A corazón abierto,

Seix Barral), here invents a plot that is foreign to her real life, but at the same time deeply connected to it.

For this, he has returned countless times to the village of Sesga and its region of Ademuz, he has enjoyed it with his network of friends and relatives, he has toured it hand in hand with a Natural Sciences teacher who has helped him understand the changes deep in the environment and has had the story of two friends who lost too much in a childhood dotted with setbacks.

The result is the struggle of that girl, Juliet, to understand and free herself from the monsters that haunt her and that are even darker when your own mother is not your protector.

“I wanted to reflect more what is not said than what is.

The most sordid has to be imagined by the reader”

“Many of the things that the pre-adolescent girl in this novel feels are based on conversations with these two friends of mine who had a very similar type of mother, with a very strong irresponsibility.

There is a very strong helplessness, with dramatic consequences when a mother has not been aware of what was happening.

And I have been very careful because they are women who have opened their hearts ”, she assures.

To write about the monster that threatens that girl as the modern wolf to Little Red Hood is to take a risk.

It is to choose.

And Lindo has not taken the explicit path but the suggestion tied to emotion, the insinuation folded to intrigue and a sensitivity that welcomes human suffering with a safe hand without tearing taboos with machetes.

“In an age where everything is on display and expressed in such a stark way, I realized that the people she was talking to wanted the subject to be brought up in whispers,” she explains.

“Women, above all, have a modesty regarding what they have suffered.

And they want you to tell it delicately.

That is why I had to reflect this story more with what is not told than with what is told.

The sordid thing has to be imagined by the reader.

Elvira Lindo in her house in Madrid. INMA FLORES

And that is why he has chosen the tone of a story, a fable, which has allowed him to intertwine the power of nature and animals as something integrated into the feelings of a handful of inhabitants sewn together at the same time torn by the gossip around the death of a child, the absence of a father at a key moment, the open mind of a woman recently arrived in town who defies closure and the clash, in short, between appearances and realities, between corsets and freedom, between vulnerability and control, the past and the present as dilemmas that flow in a chain of tension in these pages.

“Since I was little I have received stories from my aunts.

In my childhood they were counted in the dark.

And listening is the best way to get into fiction”, recalls the author.

“They were scary stories and they had the pedagogical desire to protect the child.

The stories corrected you, they made you aware of what could happen if you got distracted like Little Red Riding Hood along a forest path”.

Who has not, after all, been on the verge of a misfortune in childhood?

Who does not remember today the occasion when an adult was able to break us and we managed to run out on time?

That is the restlessness that threads the book on each page.

“All these issues were there, but they were not considered of interest or were taboo, because they were considered women's issues: relationships between mother and daughter, coexistence, competitiveness, but also protection and abandonment, care or the lack of care

All of this was outside the public debate and literature”, Lindo analyzes.

“There were many taboos on it.

But now, when we remember everything that is published in the newspapers about abuse, we see that we were close.

I have lived the wildest and freest childhood you can imagine.

But at the same time we could be perfectly prey to what a grandfather, a man you met in the countryside or someone in your family wanted.

That was there."

“In my childhood it was told in the dark.

And listening is the best way to enter fiction”

And has it really ceased to be a taboo?

“For the people who suffer from it, it is very difficult to tell about it.

But it has ceased to be a taboo to talk about it, to appear in literature, in the newspapers”.

Talking about it is a way of dealing with it, but this novel works on highly suggestive literary outlets: the dissociation that a creature can make in the face of what it has suffered, when one part of it is turned into another that allows it to flee;

and love as redemption, as a way to heal the wound.

“I've wanted to write about these things for a long time because I've talked about it, I've studied it, I've tried to get closer to childhood trauma and what happens with it as an adult.

Where is".

From there emerges the need not to suffer a life sentence, to lose the label of victim, to harbor the possibility of breathing.

“What has happened cannot be erased.

And the hardest part is not forgiving your mother.

We spend our lives forgiving our parents—and our children forgiving us—because we're not perfect, but helplessness is very hard to forgive."

Last August, Lindo once again went up to her village of Bias and there a woman unknown to her was waiting for her who kept a photo for her: it was from 1964 and portrayed the four Lindo Garrido brothers.

She turned out to be a former inmate of the family and in her image he found a past that she did not know and that confirmed how tied she was to that place.

It was her particular epiphany.

The novel, however, separates itself from the autobiography of the previous one: “I have made a tremendous effort of invention.

I had never felt so carried away by a story.

It was a heartache to finish it, to leave the characters.

I can continually return to the book that I dedicated to my parents because it is part of my history, it is alive.

But not to this.

This ends here."

The creator of Manolito Gafotas has opted for story music for a literature, this time, adult.

Will there be no more children's literature on your part?

No more Manolito Gafotas?

“If I have some free time… Maybe there would be one when he sees me with… The truth is that I don't know”, Lindo hesitates, undecided, until he confesses.

“Right now my feeling is that I have been very empty.

I can not think of anything.

I have dumped everything there.

What I am.

For this book I have had to create a literary style that differs from other forms of writing that I have used.

It's been an effort of imagination and trying to tell something very real in a slightly fantastical way and right now I'm tired.

I don't think anything would occur to me, and I also want to have the feeling that if I don't come up with anything again, I won't write anything else.

I don't feel so professional."

Detail of the Elvira Lindo library with two portraits of the Russian writers Boris Pasternak and Anton Chekhov by the painter Carlos García-Alix.


He refers to other writers who, based on their age, calculate that they have, for example, four books left.

“It makes me melancholy to have finished this book.

It made me sad that something that has excited me so much is over.

So if you ask me if I have any plans for the future, I don't have any.


What I want is for it to reach readers.

But after that I don't want to do anything for a while."

Coincidence meant that her first film as a director,

Someone to Take Care of Me,

is released practically at the same time as the publication of his book.

It hits theaters on April 28 and joins an intense career as a screenwriter, columnist (for EL PAÍS), radio collaborator and a versatility, in short, that she feels has cost her a price in terms of recognition among the of his age.

“I feel more loved and respected among young people than among my generation, because I was always a rare person in her world,” she says.

“Maybe out of curiosity, because I have been doing this or that, changing my profession, gender, daring with many things and that incessant activity of mine somehow hung on me the little label of little classifiable or little serious in the realization of a trade that is supposed to be as serious as the literary one.

And now that we live in a world that appreciates hybrid genres more,


Trailer of 'Someone to take care of me'

— And how would you define your literature?

— I think it is very expressive, human and true to the imperfect nature of human beings.

When I try to tell a story I don't think first of all about a theme, but about the characters.

These are the ones that interest me and through them you can get into issues that concern society.

My literature tries to be compassionate with imperfection.

“I feel more respected among young people than among my generation.

In her world she was a rare ”

In this sense, she feels close to Alice Munro, which she defines as "little discursive and not very ideological, but at the same time sympathetic towards how we women are, so often imperfect, negligent, capricious or lovers of our children at the same time".

"I like to be in the tradition of writers who approach the human soul and who try to understand it and set free her characters in the line of Munro, so indebted to Chekhov."

To this she adds a Cervantine tradition to which she owes "her sense of humor when trying to reduce the gravity of the moment with the incursion of irony".

Literature brings “everything” to him, he assures.

The cinema is grateful for the wealth of collective teamwork.

To columnism, which forces you to be up to date.

And practically nothing thanks the networks, in which he is present, but he refuses to react (“a friend brings them to me because I don't have the presence of mind enough to get into a fight”).

He considers that they contribute to the cheapening of public opinion and to an excessively reactive society.

“Sometimes you have to listen and just think.

Go outside for a walk.

And that's it”.

At the moment his novel,

In the Wolf's Den,

takes us far away from the noise, the networks and the city, to a place where we can live with Mary Shelley, Mary Oliver, Emily Brontë, Joseph Conrad or Little Red Hood and in a territory safe where, instead of the wolf, only literature will devour us.

'Into the lion's den'.

Elvira Lindo.

Seix Barral, 2023. 272 ​​pages.


It is published on March 29.

The film 'Someone to take care of me', directed by Elvira Lindo and Daniela Fejerman opens on April 28.

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Source: elparis

All news articles on 2023-03-25

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