Pola Oloixarac

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Borges is a divine ghost, I like having him near.

- Pola Oloixarac (El Mundo, 17 March 2010)

Described by Spanish newspaper ABC as ‘the new sensation in Hispanic literature’, Pola Oloixarac was born in 1977 in Buenos Aires. She claims to have started writing at the age of seven and finished her first novel aged eight, but her first published novel is Las teorías salvajaes (Wild Theories), which has been variously described as brilliant, brutal and complex. Daring to be both a successful and beautiful female writer, Oloixarac has attracted the attention, although not always positive, of scores of academics, literary critics, pundits and bloggers. Attacked in media for ‘writing like a man’, Oloixarac’s good looks and disconcertingly ‘un-feminine’ prose have clearly upset some people, but looking beyond the media storm we find a difficult yet intriguing work that echoes the new media-saturated world we live in (the internet, blogs, and virtual reality games all make their appearance) and argues that we construct our intrinsically violent Selves through the daily elaboration of theories.

Featured Reading Group Title

Las teorías salvajaes (Wild theories)

Alpha Decay, 2010, 275 pages.

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With three interlinking stories – an ugly, intellectual, sexually rapacious couple, a beautiful philosophy student obsessed with her professor, and an anthropologist whose theory hinges on humankind’s history of copulation with wild beasts – Las teorías salvajes is relentless in its refusal to offer any ‘safe’ characters or pre-conceived ideas about ‘good’ behaviour. Pabst and Kamtchowsky tour the underground scene of Buenos Aires, consuming drugs, making porn and ironic video games, and ceaselessly expounding their own theories about the world and their place in it. Rosa Ostreech, pseudonym for the novel’s beautiful but self-conscious narrator, pursues her professor with a highly-charged blend of eroticism and philosophical musings. And in deepest darkest Africa in 1917, Johan Van Vliet traces the outline of an audacious theory that hopes to explain mankind in its entirety…

Told in a mixture of first- and second-person narrative, the book’s themes can be summarised as follows: how theories, fear and violence make us human; young people (and writing) in the age of Google; a comparison of war and sex; and the links between the erotic and the philosophical. With little description, constant satire, physically and morally repulsive characters and lots of references and footnotes, Oloixarac’s prose can at times be challenging, but as a reader you are certainly never left with nothing to do.

Las teorías salvajes featured in the And Other Stories Spanish-language Reading Group Summer 2010.

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