Cristina Rivera Garza in The Millions


Writing Bound to Bodies: Cristina Rivera Garza in Conversation with Samantha Hunt

Cristina Rivera Garza’s The Iliac Crest is one of the most fascinating novels I’ve read in years—utterly weird yet deeply resonant in its portrayal of gendered violence.

On October 30th, Rivera Garza, Chavisa Woods, and I will meet to discuss the transgressive power of queer horror stories at the Mid-Manhattan Library at 42nd Street.

In anticipation of that conversation, I spoke with Rivera Garza over email about the relationship between language and sanity, crossing both literal and literary borderlands, and transforming people of note—in this case, Mexican author Amparo Dávila–into fictional characters.

Samantha Hunt: In The Iliac Crest you create a new language, though in the book, the language seems to be less a creation, more an emergence. It appears the way a gathering of mushrooms might spring forth after rain. Central to this language is the word glu.  I understand glu to have something to do with water and accordingly the word’s meaning remains liquid. Can I ask what glu means to you? Of course you don’t have to answer this directly. I only long to hear your thoughts around language creation and the mutability of words.

Cristina Rivera Garza: Books, real books, produce and reproduce language. Or better yet: they constitute themselves in the territory in which the emergence—the constant emergences—of languages both private and social is thoroughly recreated, registered, and documented. Many have said it before me, but I´d like to repeat it: language is the place of our sociality. We are never lonely in language. We inscribe ourselves in traditions we might agree with or not, so it is always better to be aware of this and position ourselves accordingly. We become social, too, in and through language. The two female characters speaking glu glu—you´re right, the liquid tonality (at least in Spanish) of these letters and, especially, vowels, is central to it—convey both their intimacy and their complicity—can you have one without the other?

Read the interview in full via The Millions.

The Iliac Crest

Cristina Rivera Garza
This excavation of forgotten Mexican women writers illustrates how gendered language wields destructive power.

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By Samantha Hunt
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