Vladimir Nabokov used to say that Russian is spoken with a “broad and constant smile,” because Russian vowels are like oranges and English ones are like lemons. In line with that analogy. Valerie Miles, the co-director of UK-based literary magazine Granta, says Spanish vowels remind her of grenadine seeds or machine-gun bullets: “Short and very fast.” After Japanese, Spanish is the fastest language in the world, with the highest number of syllables pronounced per second and with a vast and exuberant vocabulary, thanks in no small part to speakers in Latin America. Granta has emphasized this richness of language in its latest list of the best 25 Spanish-language novelists under the age of 35, compiled 11 years after its first and which includes writers from four continents. The list was presented by Miles at Madrid’s Cervantes Institute on Wednesday.
“One of the main differences in this selection is that many of these young writers pay particular attention to the sonorous qualities of the written word,” says Miles. “They have a keen ear for capturing the intonation and the subtle idiomatic twists of different geographical areas. And that applies not only to dialogue but in terms of incorporating a narrative voice.”
Miles also drew a distinction between the generation of writers included on the first list in 2010 and this one, the first dedicated to young Spanish-language writers by the Barcelona edition of Granta, which is published quarterly. As on the 2010 list, there are veteran prize-winning writers included such as Ecuador’s Mónica Ojeda, the Cuban Carlos Manuel Álvarez, Costa Rican Carlos Fonseca and Spain’s Cristina Morales, as well as debut novelists like 26-year-old Tenerife-born Andrea Abreu.
The predominant profile on Granta’s 2010 list was that of the urban, cosmopolitan writer and in the case of those Latin Americans included, a stint in Europe was practically obligatory. Among them were Santiago Roncagliolo, Andrés Neuman, Alejandro Zambra and Patricio Pron. A pattern of linear continuity in the biographies of the pillars of a boom that is now falling silent. “This canon is making a break with that generation, perhaps because of the greater democratization of editorial access,” says Miles. “Today they are writing from completely different places and don’t feel the need to employ urban language. They have lost the complex that dictated to write well in Spanish was to write in that way.”
“The internet has also helped to break that hegemony of having to go to the big cities to read other things,” says Diego Zúñiga, one of the 25 writers on the list who sets his novels in his hometown of Iquique, in the north of Chile. His story Una Historia de Mar (or, A Story of the Sea) is a homage to a city forgotten by Chilean literature where a world champion spearfisherman, Chungungo Martínez, resides. “I’m not afraid to use words that people maybe won’t understand. The word Chungungo, for example, is one that not every reader needs to know, but it has a sound that I wanted to include in the text,” Zúñiga says.
The range of stories produced by each of the 25 authors on the list is evidence of a geographic and linguistic paradigm shift. José Ardila writes from a small village in the rural depths of Antioquia, Colombia. Miluska Benavides is based on Peru’s mineral-producing coast. Martín Felipe Castagne works from an Argentinean mountainside. Musicality and the desire to capture sound are also present in Abreu’s “Canarian pizzicato,” as Miles describes it, and in the declamatory tone of Morales’ ode to female karate fighters. Speaking to EL PAÍS, Morales states her preference for consigning neutral Spanish to the past. “I give thanks to God if my colleagues and I have overcome this canonical requirement. Hopefully, that is the case and hopefully, texts published in 2021 can be wildly provincialist, oral and follow the glorious path of illegibility.”
The days when female writers were associated with a single genre, or with themes like family, domesticity or intimacy, are behind us
Mexican author Aniela Rodríguez
Ojeda, whose new work, featured on the list, is a tale based on an Incan ceremony, describes the written word as “sensorial, musical, rhythmic, atmospheric… when you write you are composing a specific cadence that you feel with your whole body. That is literature: the word that, as in a magic trick, transforms matter because it passes through it. To not place faith in this dimension of writing would be to waste its potential.”
The 2021 Granta list also underscores that there are many female authors like Ojeda leading these changes in Spanish-language literature. The introduction in the Spanish edition of the magazine reads: “It is to a large degree women who are leading formal preoccupations along a new path. We have received more nominations for women than for men in countries like Spain and Argentina, and an even split in Chile.” On the 2010 list, there were 17 men and five women, with Spain and Argentina the most-represented countries. In the latest selection, the balance is 14 men and 11 women with Spain (six) and Mexico (four) providing the highest number of writers per nation and Cuba (three) enjoying greater representation.
Aniela Rodríguez believes that many of these authors are trying to experiment with language as Fernanda Melchor did, or with genres like Samanta Schweblin or María Fernanda Ampuero. Rodríguez, born in Chihuahua in 1992, is one of the youngest authors on the list and her tale of a fisherman carrying a dead child is a modern incarnation of the oral style of Mexican writer Juan Rulfo. “The days when female writers were associated with a single genre, or with themes like family, domesticity or intimacy, are behind us,” she says.
Although Chilean writer Roberto Bolaño remains one of the key reference points for many of these authors, one of the writers most often mentioned among those selected by Granta is Sylvia Plath. “Despite not being a figure of reference for me, it really caught my attention and I think it’s very exciting that the writer most cited as a model is a woman, a poet on a list of novelists, and one who wrote in English,” says Andrea Chapela, another of the selected writers. “It says a lot about things like putting more emphasis on affection at the heart of the work, of care with language and a more embodied style of writing.”
One of the main differences in this selection is that many of these young writers pay particular attention to the sonorous qualities of the written word
Valerie Miles, co-director of ‘Granta’
However, Plath’s presence can also be interpreted as a reflection of current concerns in Spanish-language literature about shining a light on gender violence. Aura García-Junco was surprised to learn of Plath’s popularity among the authors on the list “although it makes perfect sense because she was very much in the shadow of her husband, something that we have re-evaluated, and also there is that vein of a violent situation running through all of her work.” García-Junco is one of three female Mexican writers on the list and her novel Mar de Piedra (or Sea of Stone), an extract of which is published in Granta’s Spanish edition, speaks precisely about femicide in Mexico, in a world somewhere between fantasy and dystopia in which women who have disappeared can end up as statues on Mexico City’s Avenida Madero. “I wanted to reflect how missing people in Mexico become part of the land again, despite being unaccounted for,” she says. “They leave traces that transcend their own existence, in the social fabric; they are a reminder that nobody is safe.”
For the 25 writers on the Granta list, being chosen among the best Spanish-language authors of their generation is a calling card for the English-speaking editorial world of the United States and the United Kingdom. Founded 132 years ago, Granta earned its mythical status when it began publishing its lists of up-and-coming writers in the second half of the 20th century. In 1983, the magazine tipped a group of thirty-somethings including Ian McEwan, Martin Amis, Julian Barnes and Kazuo Ishiguro for greatness. Every story and extract for this latest edition has been translated by some of the most recognizable names in the business – Esther Allen, Sarah Booker, Sophie Hughes and Daniel Hahn, among others – as well as Valerie Miles.
Among the jury for the 2021 list were the co-founder of Granta’s Spanish edition Aurelio Major, the literary director of the Booker Prize Foundation Gaby Wood and the writers Horacio Castellanos Moya, Rodrigo Fresán and Chloe Aridjis.
The complete list of writers selected by Granta as the 25 best Spanish-language authors under the age of 35
– Irene Reyes-Noguerol, Spain, 1997
– Andrea Abreu, Spain, 1995
– Munir Hachemi, Spain, 1989
– David Aliaga, Spain, 1989
– Cristina Morales, Spain, 1985
– Alejandro Morellón, Spain, 1985
– Aniela Rodríguez, Mexico, 1992
– Andrea Chapela, Mexico, 1990
– Aura García-Junco, Mexico, 1989
– Mateo García Elizondo, Mexico, 1987
– Camila Fabbri, Argentina, 1989
– Michel Nieva, Argentina, 1988
– Martín Felipe Castagnet, Argentina, 1986
– Carlos Manuel Álvarez, Cuba, 1989
– Dainerys Machado Vento, Cuba, 1986
– Eudris Planche Savón, Cuba, 1985
– Paulina Flores, Chile, 1988
– Diego Zúñiga, Chile, 1987
– Estanislao Medina Huesca, Equatorial Guinea, 1990
– Mónica Ojeda, Ecuador, 1988
– Carlos Fonseca, Costa Rica, 1987
– José Adiak Montoya, Nicaragua, 1987
– Miluska Benavides, Peru, 1986
– José Ardila, Colombia, 1985
– Gonzalo Baz, Uruguay, 1985
Census 2022 – what difference does it make?
Next Sunday, April 3rd, is Census night. Millions of people in homes countrywide will fill in page after page of questions, some of which are deeply personal and many of which might be unfamiliar.
But what it is it all about?
At a basic level, Census 2022 will be used to inform planning of public policy and services in the years ahead, according to the Central Statistics Office.
The questions will cover a range of environmental, employment and lifestyle issues, including the use of renewable energy sources in homes.
The questions will help inform policy development in the areas of energy and climate action, and the prevalence of internet access, to understand the availability of and need for internet connections and range of devices used to access the internet.
Questions also focus on changes in work patterns and will include the trend of working from home and childcare issues, while questions are also asked about the times individuals usually leave work, education or childcare, to help identify and plan for transport pattern needs locally and nationally.
Other topics covered include volunteering and the type of organisations volunteers choose to support, tobacco usage and the prevalence of smoke alarms in the home.
And of course there is a time capsule – the chance to write something which will be sealed for the next 100 years.
Oscars 2022: Will Smith makes Oscar history after slapping Chris Rock over joke about wife Jada Pinkett Smith | Culture
Will Smith took the Oscar for Best Actor at last night’s 94th Academy Awards, but he also became the protagonist of the ceremony for other reasons. The night was following the script, until Smith slapped comedian Chris Rock on the stage after the latter made a joke about the shaved head of the former’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. Rock had quipped that he was “looking forward to GI Jane 2,” in reference to her look. Pinkett Smith has revealed publicly that she has alopecia. It looked as if the moment had been planned, until Smith went back to his seat and shouted: “Get my wife’s name out of your fucking mouth.”
The moment, which immediately became Oscar history but for all the wrong reasons, left the attendees with frozen smiles, and asking themselves whether it was possible that a veteran such as Smith could have lost his cool in front of tens of millions of people. After taking the prize for Best Actor, the superstar actor made a tearful apology, saying that he hoped the Academy “will invite me back.” Later on, actor Anthony Hopkins called for “peace and love,” but it was already too late. The incident overshadowed the success of CODA, which took the Oscar for Best Picture. Just like the time when Warren Beatty mistakenly named La La Land as the big winner of the night, no one will speak about anything else from last night’s awards.
At first sight, Smith’s actions looked as if they were scripted. When he first heard Rock’s joke, he laughed. But his wife was seen on camera rolling her eyes, and it was then that the actor got up onto the stage and hit Rock. When he returned to his seat he raised his voice twice to shout “Get my wife’s name out of your fucking mouth,” sending a wave of unease and shock through the attending audience. The fact that he used the f-word, which is prohibited on US television, set alarm bells ringing that this was real and not a planned moment. In fact, the curse word was censored by the broadcaster, ABC, in the United States.
During a break, Smith’s PR manager approached him to speak. In the press room, which the actor skipped after collecting his prize, instructions were given to the journalists not to ask questions about the incident, Luis Pablo Beauregard reports. The next presenter, Sean “Diddy” Combs, tried to calm the situation. “Will and Chris, we’re going to solve this – but right now we’re moving on with love,” the rapper said.
When Smith took to the stage to collect his Best Actor award for his role as Richard Williams – the father of tennis stars Venus and Serena – in King Richard, he referred to the character as “a fierce defender of his family.” He continued: “I’m being called on in my life to love people and to protect people and to be a river to my people. I know to do what we do you’ve got to be able to take abuse, and have people talk crazy about you and have people disrespecting you and you’ve got to smile and pretend it’s OK.”
He explained that fellow actor Denzel Washington, who also spoke to Smith during a break, had told him: “At your highest moment, be careful, that’s when the devil comes for you.”
“I want to be a vessel for love,” Smith continued. “I want to be an ambassador of that kind of love and care and concern. I want to apologize to the Academy and all my fellow nominees. […] I look like the crazy father just like they said about Richard Williams, but love will make you do crazy things,” he said. He then joked about his mother, who had not wanted to come to the ceremony because she had a date with her crochet group.
During the commercial break, Will Smith is pulled aside and comforted by Denzel Washington and Tyler Perry, who motion for him to brush it off. Will appears to wipe tears from his eyes as he sits back down with Jada, with Denzel comforting Jada and Will’s rep by his side. pic.twitter.com/uDGVnWrSS2
— Scott Feinberg (@ScottFeinberg) March 28, 2022
The Los Angeles Police Department released a statement last night saying that Chris Rock would not be filing any charges for assault against Smith. “LAPD investigative entities are aware of an incident between two individuals during the Academy Awards program,” the statement read. “The incident involved one individual slapping another. The individual involved has declined to file a police report. If the involved party desires a police report at a later date, LAPD will be available to complete an investigative report.”
On December 28, Pinkett Smith spoke on social media about her problems with alopecia. She stated that she would be keeping her head shaved and would be dealing with the condition with humor. “Me and this alopecia are going to be friends… Period!” she wrote on Instagram.
House-price inflation set to stay double digit for much of 2022
House-price inflation is expected to remain at double-digit levels for much of 2022 as the mismatch between what is for sale and what buyers want continues.
Two new reports on the housing market paint a picture of a sector under strain due to a lack of supply and increased demand driven by Covid-related factors such as remote working.
The two quarterly reports, one each from rival property websites myhome.ie and daft.ie, suggest asking prices accelerated again in the first quarter of 2022 as the stock of homes available for sale slumped to a new record low.
Myhome, which is owned by The Irish Times, said annual asking-price inflation was now running at 12.3 per cent.
This put the median or typical asking price for a home nationally at €295,000, and at €385,000 in Dublin.
MyHome said the number of available properties for sale on its website fell to a record low of 11,200 in March, down from a pre-pandemic level of 19,000. The squeeze on supply, it said, was most acute outside Dublin, with the number of properties listed for sale down almost 50 per cent compared with pre-pandemic levels.
It said impaired supply and robust demand meant double-digit inflation is likely until at least mid-2022.
“Housing market conditions have continued to tighten,” said author of the myhome report, Davy chief economist Conall Mac Coille.
“The broad picture of the market in early 2022 remains similar to last year: impaired supply coupled with robust demand due to Ireland’s strong labour market,” he said.
“One chink of light is that new instructions to sell of 7,500 in the first 11 weeks of 2022 are well up from 4,800 in 2021, albeit still below the 9,250 in 2019. The flow of new properties therefore remains impaired,” said Mr Mac Coille.
“Whatever new supply is emerging is being met by more than ample demand. Hence, transaction volumes in January and February were up 13 per cent on the year but pushed the market into ever tighter territory,” he said.
He said Davy was now predicting property-price inflation to average 7 per cent this year, up from a previous forecast of 4.5 per cent, buoyed strong employment growth.
Daft, meanwhile, said house asking prices indicated the average listed price nationwide in the first quarter of 2022 was €299,093, up 8.4 per cent on the same period in 2021 and and just 19 per cent below the Celtic Tiger peak, while noting increases remain smaller in urban areas, compared to rural.
Just 10,000 homes were listed for sale on its website as of March 1st, an all-time low. In Dublin, Cork and Galway cities, prices in the first quarter of 2022 were roughly 4 per cent higher on average than a year previously, while in Limerick and Waterford cities the increases were 7.6 per cent and 9.3 per cent respectively.
The report’s author, Trinity College Dublin economist Ronan Lyons, said: “Inflation in housing prices remains stubbornly high – with Covid-19 disturbing an equilibrium of sorts that had emerged, with prices largely stable in 2019 but increasing since.
“As has been the case consistently over the last decade, increasing prices – initially in Dublin and then elsewhere – reflect a combination of strong demand and very weak supply.”
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