Over the last century, Argentina has produced some of the most influential writers in the literary universe, placing the Argentinian culture on exhibition to the whole world. From household names like Victoria Ocampo and the great Jorge Luis Borges to rule breakers like Julio Cortázar and Alejandra Pizarnik, Argentinian literature has always been known to push the limits of what we understand as prose, drag around reality and take the readers to the darkest corners of the human soul. And the latest generations are no different, especially with figures like Mariana Enríquez.
Mariana Enríquez was originally born in Buenos Aires but later moved to La Plata, where she fell into the city’s incredibly rich literature and music scenes. Those scenes led her to study journalism at the National University of La Plata and start her career with a focus on punk music. Nonetheless, Enriquez has not only worked as an editor and a writer in Argentinian newspapers for the last decade but she has also explored the world of fiction, publishing multiple collections of short stories and several novels where she explores her identity and background.
In 2019, Enríquez published her most acclaimed novel, “Nuestra parte de noche,” translating to “Our Share of Night,” which went on to win the Herralde Prize, one of the largest single-book prizes for works in the Spanish language. Although many have categorized “Nuestra parte de noche” under the terror genre, Enríquez revisits the long-standing Latine theme of magical realism, a literary style that gave way to the Latin American literature boom of the 20th century. Although different countries and cultures have tried their hand at magical realism, it has a much larger value in South American culture since the concept of passing the magical/supernatural as real has on many occasions become the only plausible way to represent the many abnormal and truly unbelievable events in our communities.
With “Nuestra parte de noche,” Enríquez immerses the reader into a road trip story, focusing on Juan and his son Gaspar after the death of Juan’s wife, Rosario. What at first seems to be a pseudo ‘average’ story about grief and complex family dynamics turns obscure quickly as the reader learns both Rosario and Juan were mediums connected with Satan and the underworld. The reason for the road trip is actually an escape, since Juan wants to get Gaspar far from Rosario’s family, who want to abuse him as a medium. Enríquez does a superb job at creating prose in which all the satanic and the spectral events, like rituals, sound as if they are just common occurrences, and she folds these magical events into a larger text that discusses death, spirituality and father-son relationships.
Beyond her intricate double plot and multifaceted writing style, Enríquez will go down in the canon for her unique use of the omniscient narrator. Throughout the different sections of the novel, Enríquez employs an omniscient narrator but continues changing the character focus, creating multiple perspectives that take the reader to different angles of the same story. It’s the idea of angles that Enríquez centers her work around, presenting old ideas, old cultures and old traditions through new, additional lenses, so we can look upon the old and new Argentinian world under a revolutionary scope.