The poet and writer Manuel Vilas says that if he does not write he dies. And that is what he did. Almost always in hotel rooms, during Ordesa's strenuous tour, one of the literary phenomena of last year that turned this cult author into bestsellers with an extraordinary autobiographical novel about lost childhood, the indecipherable love of parents and that Spain not cosmopolitan, from the periphery, which also exists outside of Madrid and Barcelona. With Alegría , which is a continuation of Ordesa , Vilas has been crowned as the Finalist of the 2019 Planet Award.
Q. Is joy more important than happiness?
A. The narrator of the novel is a man of my age and comes to that conclusion. The whole novel is a quest for joy. There is a negative protagonist against whom the narrator fights his name is Arnold Schönberg, as the dodecaphonist composer. He is the lord of melancholy, the reminder that there is evil, misfortune, disease, misfortune. Joy is one of the great forces of life. When scientists discover the origin of life they will find the word joy.
Q. With happiness not?
A. Happiness is a state of calm, almost mortuary. Joy is movement, transformation, growth. It is a force majeure. The novel investigates that mystery, the mystery of life. Every human being carries within the idea of his own mystery, his identity. Life is a mystery under construction. And the narrator decides to call that mystery joy.
Q. Is it a continuation of Ordesa ?
A. Yes, the narrator's parents are the same as in Ordesa . But it is an independent novel, it is not a cycle.
Q. How do you write from such an overwhelming success without getting lost a little along the way?
A. At first I was scared. I had to keep writing because it is the reason of my life, if I don't write I die. I started and I still don't know how these 300 pages were written, mostly in hotel rooms.
Q. One of Ordesa's keys is that it is narrated by a man who expresses his love without shame, in Alegría too?
A. In the case of my generation that affected not only men or fathers, it is that mothers were like that as well. Yes, they were maternal, but they didn't verbalize a "I love you" either. That has improved in our time. In the end, love is always love. But it is true that in Spain men have not verbalized neither love nor anything, it is a pending subject. Perhaps now steps are being taken. That men verbalize feelings will make the society progress. But Alegría's narrator does not distinguish between men and women.
A. No, that comes from my mother, who only knew how to see life, not the anatomy of life. The narrator is obsessed with the inheritance of his mother, a kind of primitive atavism very much of the night of the times where the distinction between men and women is a matter of vanity of culture. The protagonist has that kind of mystical attacks.
Q. Does Joy also have a political character?
A. Yes, we reflect on the political representations of Spain, its historical and social identity. Also about capitalism. Not to condemn it, but to understand it. The act of understanding is superior to judging.
Q. Does the process come out ?
R. No. I am Aragonese and I live in Madrid. I have suffered from the news since the news. But what worries me as a citizen is to see the deteriorated public space. Yesterday I was in a hotel and next to it there was a fire. I want a modern country where there are no fires in the streets. The struggle for modernity should be transversal, not the patrimony of a political party. I worry because I see a difficulty speaking in a rational way of politics. They are all dogmas. We have been fighting religious dogmas for a lifetime and now we fall for another type.
Q. And the middle class?
A. I worry about their prosperity, yes, because the middle classes are the basis of democracy. It has cost a lot to win, they have not been a gift. It has been the effort of several generations. My father stopped studying at age 12 and got to work. Thanks to his sacrifice I was able to go to university. People have to have prosperity to live better. Only then will we reach modernity.
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