Osvaldo Soriano, rebel and dreamer. The Argentine journalist and writer that readers loved
Very young, at the age of 54, on a day like today in 1997, the writer Osvaldo Soriano died in Buenos Aires. Outstanding chronicler, best-selling author in the 1980s and 1990s, a lover of cinema, tango and cats and one of the most illustrious fans of the San Lorenzo de Almagro club (which paid tribute to him by baptizing a library with his name in the Boedo neighborhood), Soriano earned, as noted by the director of the National Library, the writer Juan Sasturain, the “enviable” love of readers in Argentina and in the countries where his work reached. Friend of the writers and journalists Miguel Briante, Antonio Dal Masetto and Norberto Soares, among others, the “rebel, dreamer and fugitive” born in Mar del Plata in 1943 became one of the most widely read writers during the 20th century in Argentina. . Italo Calvino, Arturo Pérez-Reverte and Julio Cortázar fervently recommended his literary works.
“The satisfaction I have is knowing that I work well, that I do things the best I could,” he told the journalist Cristina Mucci. In addition, obviously, I touch on topics that produce a certain identification. I write about us. My characters, in general, are losers and loners and, in a way, they represent very strong aspects of this country. But people who don’t like me give me attributes ranging from “successful” to “populist.” And I can assure you that it irritates me.”
Several of his novels were made into films with great success by Héctor Olivera and Lautaro Murúa, and in 2001, Eduardo Montes Bradley directed the documentary Soriano, which can be seen on Vimeo, and in which the journalist Santo Biasatti, the Chilean writer Ariel Dorfman, the filmmaker Fernando Birri, the actor Federico Luppi, the writers Roberto Cossa, Aída Bortnik, José Pablo Feinmann testify about “Gordo”. , the Uruguayan Eduardo Galeano and the Italians Gianni Minà and Nico Orengo. Also his partner, the French nurse Catherine Brucher. Soriano went into exile in Brussels in 1976, where he met Brucher, and in 1978 they both settled in Paris. In 1984, they traveled to Argentina and, in 1989, they had a son, Manuel. Soriano’s journalistic chronicles -published in media such as Front page, The opinion Y Page 12– are gathered in Artists, madmen and criminals; Rebels, dreamers and fugitives; tales of happy years, Y Pirates, ghosts and dinosaurs. He wrote a children’s book: The Black of Paris.
“Soriano was a brand at one point in my life -says the writer Guillermo Saccomanno to LA NACION-. He was an important figure in my training, in those dark years when I was starting out, although he was only a few years older than me”. the author of the good pain has repeatedly written about Soriano. “The important thing today is to vindicate something that is in his writing and that is the ability to put into operation what the North American narrative of Cain, of Chandler, has, not coincidentally Philip Marlowe is the protagonist of his first novel, sad, lonely and final. Osvaldo was a great reader of black series authors, those authors that Ricardo Piglia had also claimed in a collection of black novels. Hence his skill in journalism, making narration, such as the memorable chronicle on Robledo Puch for The opinion. Later, when state terrorism broke out and he went into exile, he wrote There will be no more sorrows of forgetting Y winter quarters, two essential novels not only because of the political analysis but also because of that perception for reality and the feelings that such a contradictory reality inspires in which two groups that call themselves Peronists knead each other”.
Back from exile, Soriano joined the newspaper team Page 12. “In its legendary back covers, it parodies the mechanics of Art Buchwald through those notes in which a correspondent in Argentina gives an account of the pathetic and tragicomic nature of our reality. On the other hand, in Page His stories about the father appear, which are of a very high literary level. I have read it a lot, we were friends and for me today Osvaldo acquires the range of classic”, Concluye Saccomanno.
The hero of journalists
The writer, journalist and academic Jorge Fernández Díaz met and interviewed Soriano on several occasions. “Osvaldo was the hero of the journalists,” he says. There is always a literary hero among journalists, he was one of those heroes, as was Tomás Eloy Martínez. He was a remarkable columnist, with a great sense of connection with the readers; He always suffered a lot from the criticism of the academy. He considered himself a popular writer and believed that the avant-garde looked down on him. ‘All I want is for them to let me sit at the table,’ he told me. He made a description of the different types of writers and said: ‘I am the narrator’. He was very bitter about not being recognized by the critical elite, by the avant-garde, by the university, when he was a hugely successful author who had the most precious thing of all, readers, with books where he managed to capture politics”. For Fernandez Diaz, There will be no more sorrows or forgetfulness Y winter quarters they are essential to understand “the disaster and the Peronist war” of the 1970s and then the military dictatorship.
“There were people who praised him a lot, like Julio Cortázar and Italo Calvino; the Italians considered it almost their own because of that mischievousness that their characters had -adds the author of The wound-. But what surprised me the most when I met him was that pain even in success because he was considered a marginal, instead of rejoicing to be in the margins where he was with comics, journalism, crime novels. Soriano’s work deserves a review”.
After Soriano’s death, the Radar supplement of Page 12 He dedicated a special issue to him in which the historian Osvaldo Bayer affirmed that the essayist and professor Beatriz Sarlo had made fun of the writer in front of the students. Sarlo denied that version. “According to the black legend, I would have invited Soriano to give a talk in the ‘university field’ (I understand that he refers to the years in which I taught Argentine literature at the Faculty of Philosophy and Letters of the UBA) and would have set up a stage so that ‘the students would make fun of the writer because he had just stumbled through primary school’. The story is false,” he wrote. Saccomanno, Eduardo Romano and María Moreno also participated in this debate.
In the middle of the year, the journalist Ángel Berlanga will publish in the Sudamericana publishing house a soriano biography, titled The man who talked to cats, with testimonies from Brucher, Dal Masetto, Alberto Szpunberg, Juan Forn, Liliana Heker, Daniel Divinsky, Vlady Kociancich and Ernesto Tiffemberg, among many others. “I started working on the biography about eight years ago, but before that I had already worked with Juan Forn on Seix Barral’s reissue of his complete work and had already put together two anthologies: Archers, illusionists and scorers, his soccer texts, and Comedians, tyrants and legends, with unpublished articles -says Berlanga to LA NACION-. For the biography I made some one hundred interviews with people who knew him at different stages of his life, tracked down and revealed his journalistic work, extremely rich and enormous, in newspaper archives, and followed the journey of his literary work: the history of each of his novels, the criticisms and controversies, the tug-of-war between becoming a popular writer, best seller, and certain contempt of academic sectors”. Other aspects are the interviews with Soriano and the correspondence, “essential for composing his years in exile during the dictatorship,” adds the biographer. In 2017, the journalist Pablo Montanaro had released Osvaldo Soriano. The happy years in Cipoletti.
Berlanga did not personally know the author of At his feet surrendered a lion. “I only saw him a couple of times at conferences and I spoke with him one morning on the phone, in the early 1990s -he recalls- His death was a shock: he was just 54 years old, not many knew he was sick. I went to the wake, which was crowded, and to the funeral in Chacarita. A year later in Page 12 I saw the announcement of a special supplement about him, so I offered Juan Forn some of the materials on Soriano that I had been collecting: Juan accepted them and also accepted some proposals for notes. In other words, Soriano, in his own way, was also my gateway to writing in the newspaper”. For Berlanga, Soriano “decoded and narrated the present” in a fabulous way, without forgetting the past or neglecting the future. Twenty-five years after his death, his imprint is still alive in the future of Argentine culture.
Osvaldo Soriano on Jorge Luis Borges
When he learned that he was going to die, Borges must have felt an irrepressible desire to rediscover his very distant youth in Geneva. From one day to the next, he built his house on Maipú Street in Buenos Aires, fired Fanny, the maid who had taken care of him for thirty years, and married María Kodama, who was his assistant, his guide, his friend for a long time. more than a decade.
As Julio Cortázar had done in Buenos Aires two years before, Borges went to look at himself in the mirror that reflected the most naive and radiant days of his youth. Cortázar, on the other hand, needed to peek into the dirty Riachuelo that Borges had mystified in poems and stories where the imaginary compadritos of the suburb assumed a destiny of Greek tragedy.
Curious symmetry between the two greatest writers of this country: Cortázar, frightened by Peronism and mediocrity, decided to live in Europe after the publication of his first books in 1951. It was in Paris that he assumed his status as a Latin American over the petty fatality of being Argentine.
Borges, on the other hand, could never live anywhere else. Perhaps because he was blind from a very young age and had invented an exciting and epic Buenos Aires that never existed. A universe where he sublimated the frustrations and lost honor of a class that had built a country without a future, a prosperous and heartless factory.
Borges believed himself to be a privileged European for not having been born in Europe. He learned to read in English and French but he did more than anyone else in this century so that Castilian could express what until then had only been said in Latin, in Greek, in the Arabic of the conquerors or in the thunderous English of Shakespeare.
From Arabian Nights Y The Divine Comedy he extracted the avatars of the soul that are above social differences and class confrontations. From Spinoza and Schopenhauer he deduced that immortality was not linked to the gods and that the destiny of men could only be explained in tragedy. From there he came to tango and to the minor poets of Buenos Aires, he reinvented them and gave them the heroic encouragement of the founders who have exchanged the sword for the knife, strategy for intrigue, the sea for the open field. King Lear is Azevedo Bandeira, demoted and darkly redeemed in “The Dead Man.” Goethe is in the perplexed German of “The South” who is going to die without hope and without fear in a grocery store in the pampas.
Fragment of “Borges: The symbol of a permanent bitterness”, included in Rebels, dreamers and fugitives