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Interview with Rafael Escuredo

Rafael Escuredo: No one is immune to the conditioning we get from childhood or youth

Rafael Escuredo

 

Interview with Rafael Escuredo held on 12th October, 2011 at the Dámaso Alonso Library of the Instituto Cervantes in Dublin on the occasion of the presentation of his book El blanco círculo del miedo.

Rafael Escuredo Rodríguez (Estepa, Seville, 1944), graduated in Law from the University of Seville. As a deputy, he negotiated the terms for pre-autonomy in Andalusia and in 1979 he was elected president of the Junta de Andalucía, a position he held until 1984. In recent times, he has combined his career as a lawyer with writing. He has published the collection of poems Un mal día (1999), a short story collection Cosas de mujeres (2002), a compilation of his newspaper articles, Andalucía irredenta (2004), and four novels: Un sueño fugitivo (1994), Leonor, mon amour (2005), which won the Premio de la Crítica prize in Andalusia, Te estaré esperando (2009) and El blanco círculo del miedo (2011), adapted to film in 2012.

David Carrión: —Rafael Escuredo, writer, lawyer and ex-president of the Regional Government of Andalusia. Are your political days well and truly history now?

Rafael Escuredo: —Well, calling it history would be a bit grandiose. If anything, I’m part of a brief recent history of Andalusia, as a consequence of the Andalusian process of becoming an autonomous region. It was part of the circumstance of my political career and it was a period of struggles amended to incorporate the Statute of Autonomy for Andalusia. We wanted a statute which would give equal right to Andalusia, whereas the intention was to limit that privilege to northern communities only, giving Catalonia, the Basque Country and Galicia more autonomy than others.

David Carrión: —You have written poetry, short stories and four novels so far. Your short story collection is entitled Cosas de mujeres. What do women think about your short stories?

Rafael Escuredo: —At a first glance, the title might come across ambiguously. The title Cosas de mujeres suggests that there is a sexist approach. However, I always tried to place the role of women, as it couldn’t be any other way, on a par with the role of men.

I used the title Cosas de mujeres on purpose as it was an expression that was related somehow to that sexist language that I wanted to denounce. The short stories are about independent women, women who want to live their own lives and who find themselves constrained due to circumstances that historically have put women in a secondary position, in a secondary role, while the reality has been and will continue being different. It’s true that women and men are different, but we are equal not only as far as rights and duties are concerned, but also as human beings.

David Carrión: —Your first three novels are part of your Trilogía de la memoria. Are your own memories reflected in them?

Rafael Escuredo: —They are somehow. No one who writes can elude his own thoughts and his own beliefs. I think that in these three novels I’ve tried to emphasise that no one is immune to the conditioning we get from childhood or youth, and all those things come from within you.

Retrieving memory, in other words, averting what you forget on one hand, and on the other, overcoming the conditioning to which you were subjected and reaffirming yourself as a human being, progressing without looking back, living life to the full as a person, as a citizen is, in my opinion, one of the most important tasks for every human being. It’s something that has always disturbed me. It’s not that I’ve been obsessed about it either, but it’s true that it has interested me and concerned me.

David Carrión: —After Un sueño fugitivo, Te estaré esperando and Leonor, mon amour, we have now El blanco círculo del miedo, which is your first immersion in detective fiction. Why detective fiction?

Rafael Escuredo: —Because I’ve been a passionate reader of detective fiction and the great masters always used detective fiction as a tool, as a means of expressing criticism of their society. I thought it was the genre that gave me greater flexibility to do that.

Social criticism can be made through any genre but for instance, through a romantic novel it might be quite difficult. I’ve used detective fiction to try and denounce the abuse, egotism and greed of financial capitalism that we have nowadays. On the other hand, I also wanted to emphasise and prod those aspects of corruption that affect and are part of Spanish society, where there’s connivance between mafias, political power, local government, corruption, assassinations which are part of what’s happening in Spain but that we somehow digest and relegate to some recess of our mind, that part of memory where it becomes part of normality and we let it go.

I think that all this is very seriously conditioning the present and future generations of Spain and it felt right, even necessary, to jump-start awareness in one sector of our society. In the end, everyone contributes in whatever way they can or want to so as to improve the society in which we live. This can only be done through criticism. The thing is, I’m not overtly political in my novel nor do I allow myself to be moralistic. This is a novel about everybody’s experience, after all.

David Carrión: —You said that you were very angry while writing El blanco círculo del miedo. Is that anger still there?

Rafael Escuredo: —Yes, I still am an indignant citizen, like many others. I may not go to a demonstration in a public square, but I express my protest through my writing. I think that there are reasons to feel indignation when we see these predators in the financial world, people without scruples who have decided that Salomon Brothers is the government of the world and that the markets rule the world and act as a substitute for politics.

This abandonment of politics by the politicians who rule the world today is really deplorable. And that is what justifies the anger of civil society, of the citizens’ conscience. I believe the time has come for citizens to protest again, to take to the streets and seriously criticise what’s going on.

David Carrión: —Do the indignant appear as a character in your novel?

Rafael Escuredo: —No. If anything, it’s the author who has given himself that privilege.

David Carrión: —We know that El blanco círculo del miedo is being adapted for film.

Rafael Escuredo: —Yes, according to the producer, the pre-production phase is happening this year [2011] and shooting for the big screen will start in June or July.

David Carrión: —We hope to see it in Dublin very soon. We have a final question and since we’re here in the library, could you recommend a book for us? What are you reading at the moment?

Rafael Escuredo: —If I told you I’m reading about ten, twelve books at the same time, I wouldn’t be lying. But it could be any by Mario Vargas Llosa, on the occasion of his latest novel and also of his Nobel Prize for Literature. He is, in my opinion, one of the great masters of Spanish literature. We can learn a lot from him.

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