CARACAS – Spanish literature has “a truly alarming disconnection with the street” and authors have “no idea what goes on inside the heads of ordinary people,” Spanish writer Kiko Amat said in an interview with Efe in Caracas.
Amat, who has just presented his third novel, “Rompepistas” (Anagrama), about a group of adolescents who live on the outskirts of 1980s Barcelona, called for “kitchen sink, working class literature” as opposed to the “exercises in style” so prevalent in contemporary Spanish literary output.
The 38-year-old writer told Efe of his interest “in being understood, without (assuming) an affected (style).”
“Crypticness seems harmful and elitist to me,” Amat said.
“There’s very little effort to make literature for the people. Always there’s an attempt to make high culture, serious literature; that’s why these things come out that don’t motivate people to read, because they’re insufferable,” he said at a popular eatery in downtown Caracas.
Amat, who got his start writing for independent magazines and now contributes to leading Spanish newspapers such as La Vanguardia and El Pais, also had his two previous novels published by Anagrama: “El dia que me vaya no se lo dire a nadie” (2003) and “Cosas que hacen ¡Bum!” (2007).
The author openly describes himself as “leftist,” although he said he doesn’t like sermons but rather “to talk about politics in a natural way, from the ground up and referring to everyday life.”
“I remember how the ‘hippies’ in high school made me apolitical out of pure rejection, because of how annoying and unattractive they made leftist ideas appear,” he said.
Amat, whose novels focus on the outskirts of Barcelona where he grew up and still lives, is in Venezuela to give a literary workshop called “Manual de literature para punks, o como publicar tres novelas sin haber estudiao” (Literature Manual for Punks, or How to Publish Three Novels Without Studying), organized by the Spanish Embassy and the Venezuelan magazine 2021 Pura Ficcion.
“In time, I saw that there were other, more entertaining ways of getting involved with the radical left, like the ‘situationists,’ people who proposed a leftist rebellion with dreams and drunken revelry,” said Amat, who also co-publishes the fanzine La Escuela Moderna.
Regarding Latin America, Amat said the region awakens in him “an enormous fascination; it’s a world that’s so strange. There’s a really beautiful enthusiasm that clearly is non-European.”
“I love how the concept of the artist here is lived from the standpoint of celebrating that privilege, while in Europe there’s a perspective that’s much more comfortable, as if (the artist) were someone who had always been born for that,” he said.
He also criticized contemporary Spanish culture, which he said is “boring and serious,” adding that “even when they try to approach the popular ambit, they do so in a way that’s so pompous, so academic and so pretentious.”
“I don’t have to apologize to the cultural elites because I like ‘Spiderman.’ But not apologizing for that makes me sound strange within the literary world. (But) I have no intention of being accepted by the popes of high culture; that doesn’t interest me in the slightest,” he said. EFE