Tuesday, July 5

Here we are your sisters

Very few people knew that the Mexican writer Cristina Rivera Garza had lost her sister to a femicide. I remember talking to her a few times about gender-based violence and I’m sure she never mentioned it. Thirty years it took him to go through the physical process of opening the boxes that contained fragments of the last days in the life of his little sister truncated at 20; All that time it took him to go through the intimate process of writing and speaking publicly for the first time on a subject that has marked his entire life and literature. One day Cristina decided that this silence, the zeal with which her family wanted to protect Liliana’s memory and take care of her from the robbers, was working in favor of the murderer who was still on the run after so many years. On that Christmas a year ago, Rivera Garza told his parents that he was going to seek justice and they trusted, they finally knew that they should try. That is the genesis of ‘Liliana’s invincible summer’ (Random House Literature), the new work by an essential author who leaves fiction for a while to continue telling us important things.

Liliana was a young architecture student at the UAM who had left her native Toluca hungry for experiences, readings and new encounters. He had that filter in his eyes that young people have when they are young and read many books and watch many movies. Who throw sentences that cut like knives, who write poems and get drunk. Who travel and sleep in community and speak a common language. But in addition, she was too much herself, inalienable, funny, charming, she had a vibrant inner life and seemed to overflow with tenderness and desire for everything and everyone. She had an unbearable beauty and autonomy for a predator. He was not interested in romantic love, although many times it was entangled in his web, he was a free spirit, insubordinate. Her high school boyfriend was reluctant to let her go, even when she left for Mexico City and started a new student life. Rivera Garza uses studies to explain how most crimes occur in the first three months after the breakup. And that is one of the theses on which the book is built: Liliana had decided to leave him, to turn her winter into an invincible Camussian summer. That is why he killed her, for having awakened. In 1990 we did not even know how to call this violence, identify it, denounce it and much less fight against it, Cristina writes. The other key thesis of the book is that Liliana believed that she could face alone what happened to her, that she had the control to manage it, to negotiate with her murderer, that she could get out of the networks of the patriarchy without help. She did not ask for help, she was silent, but like other women, she left dozens of signs and crumbs on her way to find out the truth. That we are not alone, that if they touch one they touch all, is what we have learned. Cristina repeats it throughout the book: it is for them, for those who are not, that we are going to throw it away. That’s what those who knew her have done, picking up her footprints until they make her unattainable due to the mediocrity of her murderer. The testimonies of her loves, admirers and friends go on and on in Rivera Garza’s torrent of writing at once desolate and hopeful, trapping us in her lights and shadows, in the joy and pain of having known and loved her, so much so that now it is also part of us. Liliana and the fight to do her justice begins to be our shared responsibility from now on. We swam in the next lane, with long strokes, Liliana and Cristina.

For this reason, in addition to a devastating memoir by an enormous writer and the loving tribute that Liliana’s graceful and luminous presence returns to the world, this is an open and moving book, a political action and denunciation from great literature. That is why the photo of the murderer is among its pages and on the author’s twitter, that is why it is disseminated with an email created to request information about the femicide and that is why the Mexican journalist Daniela Rea left to march on March 8, 2021 with a sign that said. “Liliana Rivera Garza: Justice”. This book was not launched with an editorial campaign but with that image. With the name of Liliana screaming on the walls of Mexico City. Like other works by literary authors who have dealt with sexist violence, such as Selva Almada from the documentary record in ‘Dead Girls’ or Belén López Peiró from the autobiographical in ‘Why I returned every summer’, the book does not end in publication but that begins at that very moment its path towards the restoration of the world that was devastated with horror by the unpunished femicide whom we all seek. For the first time Liliana’s voice returns from the past and joins the voices of thousands of women of the present who wanted to silence men who hated the beauty and freedom of their lives. Thanks to her sisters, who today take their photos and their names to the streets, shouting and writing for justice and against oblivion, they will continue to be invincible.