Mario Bellatin, one of Mexico’s most innovative literary voices, is known internationally for writing in an experimental and fragmented fashion that blurs the boundaries of traditional genres. The author of Beauty Salon, Shiki Nagaoka, Flowers, and Mishima’s Illustrated Biography, Bellatin’s novels keep readers slightly off balance as he alternates between realism or situations pulled from real life and elements of the unusual. He’ll be reading at this year’s Lit & Luz Festival on November 20th alongside Brenda Lozano at Constellation (with supertitles.) The event will be moderated by Héctor García and translated by Gerardo Cárdenas. In anticipation of his appearance at Lit & Luz, I got the opportunity to ask him a few questions about his views on writers and writing.
What can we expect from your reading this Friday at the Lit & Luz Festival?
The possibility that language is just a vehicle for transmitting ideas. That what we truly seek to express is something beyond language. In a vacuum where both author and translator must be accomplices. To find a way to translate nothingness.
Your work tends to blur boundaries and genres. Do you think fiction and non-fiction can be too predictable if they don’t mix?
I think both instances are already mixed upon reaching the imagination of a writer. As an author you shouldn’t seek or not what is predictable, but instead a unique form of expressing things. No one can express things the way that I can, could be the premise.
What do you imagine are the differences between Chicago writers and writers from Mexico City?
I imagine there are many and none. This strange game of opposites is what makes many writers of the world brothers. Their realities so different and the same desperate desire to bring these worlds to words. The desperate desire is the same throughout the universe of writers.
What do you think you would be doing if you were not a writer?
What I do now. Nothing.
What advice would you give to a young writer who has been told that his or her work is too unusual?
Not to listen to anyone. To accept no advice. And that being a writer is not better than not being a writer. By this I mean, that if you are a writer, don’t worry, you’ll keep accomplishing your goal despite the circumstances. And otherwise, if you cannot continue, quickly let go of the idea that you have lost something. If you leave something behind, it’s because it was never truly yours.