Mona by Pola Oloixarao

Mona by Pola Oloixarac

Argentine fiction

Original title -Mona

Translator – Adam Morris

Source – Personal copy

So I start this year’s Woman in translation month with a talented Latin American writer. That I have also been featured on this blog before on the blog. when I reviewed Dark constellations by Pola Oloixarac a couple of years ago. She was one of the hugely talented writers that were picked in the Granta list of young Spanish writers in 2010 (is it that long ago, so many great writers have come from that list. This is the third novel she has also written for the New York Times and Rolling stone in the past. Last year she won a writers award at the Hay festival. This satire on being a writer but also an insight into the Lit world in its way as we follow Mona as she heads to Sweden to see if she has won a prize. She is also a female writer of colour so she is something of a novelty at times when she arrives in a small village in Sweden.

TWO hundred thousand euros, thirteen finalists, one winner. Hailing from all four corners of the earth, the finalists convened for the Great Meeting: Sweden’s most prestigious literary festival, held to commemorate the legacy of Edmond Virgil Basske-Wortz, Alfred Nobel’s best friend. And if she won? She’d ditch Stanford for good and make straight for the jungle, penetrating deep into
the forest until she lost herself in the wetlands of the Brazilian Pantanal. If you moved to the Pantanal, you could survive on a hundred dollars a year and then use the rest of the money
treating all the infections and diseases you’d contract. You could easily spend the remainder of your life in the jungle–because you wouldn’t last long! Great idea! Silenced on her phone, Antonio’s voice prattled on in her head. Airplane mode was ideal for guys like him, the ones who felt the need to comment incessantly on her life.

The prize as she heads on the plane to see if she wins.

I said this has a twin storyline(it is more looking back at why she has certain marks on her body) it has in the fact that along the way events in Mona’s life are mentioned, we meet her as she like me prepares for a flight (I am not a fan of flying I don’t drink of taking drugs but can connect with how you may want too) she sits by the window. But hey has she a newish Peruvian writer been put up for this prestigious writing prize in Sweden the most important writers prize? The Basske-worth prize is somewhere between the booker and Nobel and she is heading to see if she has won. Where when she arrives she mixes with the other writers that are up for the prize. I did wonder whom she had based these characters on, I think most successful writers go around the world meeting fellow writers and I imagine this has a little of some of the people she had met over time. They are mainly mentioned as where they come from. alongside this, we have Mona looking at herself and some off the marks we see on her body and the violence connected with them. Also, Mona is a woman that likes sex from masturbating on the plane to cam sex and other things that litter the book.

That night, Mona dreamed of a black body of water ascending from the lake, carrying with it a silent cargo of dead animals drowned by the tide. The dark liquid entered through the keyhole and took her by surprise in bed as it spread across the floor. The chair clattered against the desk,knocked into it by the current. The windows were open. Something was watching her from outside, panting. Better not to scream, she thought, or the hungry beast prowling around out there will come in and find me. She woke up shaking, drenched in sweat.

A wonderful description of a nightmare that Mona had

The book is an insight into the fickle world of books and how it is sometimes who you are more than what you write that makes the judges pick you. Mona is an example of this world. But as we follow here down the rabbit hole of being involved in a prize and the writers there. I love to know which writers she has based the cast of characters we meet in the book ( who are they in real life), I laughed as some who have been to a few prize ceremonies over the years weren’t like this was Wirth the backstabbing but it is interesting meeting writers in a more social setting like the old IFFP  were I could share a cigarette( shows you how long ago it was I haven’t smoked for a number of years) with a number of writers that were up for the prize it was great meeting writers like this in a relaxed event. But for a big prize like this one, it must be hard I look at the old booker videos and wonder if the writers are more competitive. Also the loneliness of being a writer. Also, the very go round of ego and prizes. This is a book that is different to the other book by her I had read by her which shows she is a writer that is developing I will be reading her next book for sure. Have you read her?

Winstons score – A – lifting the veil on literary prizes alongside sex and violence from the main character.

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. 1streading
    Aug 01, 2022 @ 10:17:28

    This sounds great – like you, I’d be very keen to know what, if any, real writers she has based her characters on!

    Reply

  2. Trackback: That was the month that was August 2022 | Winstonsdad's Blog

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