Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Women Writers of Color

Full Name - Carolina De Robertis
Date of Birth - July 11, 1975
Location - Oakland, CA
Website/Blog - , facebook
Genre - Literary Fiction
Most recently published work - The Invisible Mountain
How frequently do you update your site? - Quite reguarly
Is Your site designed for interaction - No, but my facebook page is

Can you tell us a little about The Invisible Mountain?

It’s a novel chronicling ninety years of Uruguayan history through the lives of three generations of women, exploring the various political and personal upheavals that affect their lives. Emigration, poetry, gender transgression, revolutionary movements, dictatorships, resilience. Love and sex, of course. That’s there too.

Many female authors tell the story of a family through its grandmothers, mothers and daughters. There's Garcia's Dreaming in Cuban, Tadema's Red River and Llanos-Figueroa 's Daughters of the Stone, and so many more.

Why do you think female authors have embraced generational stories through the matriarch?

So often history—familial and societal—is traced through paternal lines. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that, as men’s stories have great worth, but women’s do too. All too often, women’s experiences of history are lost, buried in silence. Novelists have an opportunity to excavate that silence and breathe new life into those stories, through the aclhemy of storytelling.

I loved Invisible Mountain. All the praise and awards are well deserved. It was a wonderful look at the rich and sad history Uruguay.

Why do you think there aren't more novels set in this country?

Thank you so much! Yes, Uruguay is very rich—but it’s also very small. As a nation of 3.5 million people, it often goes forgotten on a global scale. This makes it additionally powerful for its stories to get told. One of the pieces of grafitti I’ve seen on the streets of Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay, is “El Sur También Existe” - “The South Also Exists.”

Eva the mother is a poet. Salome, the granddaughter, is active in the revolution. What are your thoughts on writing and activism?

They’re deeply connected—or, at least, they can be. Stories have power. The transformation of silence into voice has power. The day I met Sandra Cisneros, she said, “stories save lives.” And she should know.

For those who have read Invisible Mountain and those who will, what is mate? I know its a beverage but what exactly is it? Is there a recipe?

I could write a whole web site on this! We Uruguayans are very passionate about our mate. It’s a kind of strong, green, caffeinated tea indigenous to parts of South America, traditionally drunk out of a hollowed-out plant gourd and a metal straw called a “bombilla” that has a strainer on the bottom. There’s a whole ritual to how the gourd is passed around and drunk in community. It’s not so much a recipe as a collection of customs. For example, if an Uruguayan hands you their mate gourd, know that you’ve been brought into a circle of hospitality. You can drink all the water down, you can hand it back if you don’t like it, but whatever you do, Don’t. Stir. The. Straw.

Are you working on anything now?

Yes! I’m working on my second novel, Liquid City, about an Argentinean Navy captain's daughter who, twenty years after the dictatorship, discovers the ghost of one of the disappeared in her living room, and is forced to confront the secret that connects them.

Is there anything else you'd like to share with Color Online?

Thanks for the incredible work you do!


Bonnie Jacobs said...

Doret, thanks for this interview with the author and for your review of the book yesterday. I added a comment about both of your posts to my review, here:

campbele said...

My book group was moving away from Latina Lit but this sounds worth considering as it would be a good way to learn about Uraguay. Mate sounds like something they have in Brasil.

Doret said...

Bonnie - Thanks so much, your review remind me I wanted to read Invisible Mountain.

Edi - This would make a great book club book, because not only is it good there is a lot to discuss.

Do you know if the the drink in Brasil, is called mate or something else?

MissAttitude said...

This reminded me that I need to add Invisible Mountain to my TBR list!

I completely agree that we need more stories told from the matriachs side of the family.

As someone whose country often gets let out of literature too, I sympathize with Urguay not often being represented!

I feel that I learned something valuable today: Do not stir the straw when drinking mate ;)

Carolina said...

Thanks for your thoughts. I'm glad and honored to hear that some of you are considering the novel for your book clubs.

To answer the question about Brazil, mate is drunk there in the south (it's also enjoyed in Argentina and Chile). With the heat of Brazil, they drink a cooler version called "tereré."

Stirring the straw is a very natural impulse - it happens to many! But it clogs the sieve and wreaks havoc on the artful serving of maté. Hence the prohibition. :-)