María Sonia Cristoff

Argentina

© Gabriel Díaz

 

 

María Sonia Cristoff was born in Trelew, Patagonia, in 1965. Since the early 1980s she has lived in Buenos Aires where she studied Language and Literature. For years now Christoff has applied herself to the literature of Patagonia, published Acento extranjero (“Foreign Accent”), an anthology of historical travelogues, in 2000, and the volume Patagonia in 2005, in which various authors portray their villages in southern Argentina. With Falsa calma (“Deceptive Calm”), which she wrote thanks to a scholarship of the Fondo Nacional de las Artes, she advanced to become an outstanding ambassador for the narrative non-fiction of her country. The author writes for the newspaper La Nación on a regular basis.

 

 

Falsa calma – Un recorrido por pueblos fantasmas de la Patagonia (“Deceptive Calm, Patagonia’s haunted Villages”) is a travelogue which aims to track down Patagonian conditions of living without following in the line of Chatwin’s creation of myths. The emphasis is not on the meagreness and vastness of the countryside, which has now almost become a cliché, but on isolated villages, which are swept through by the winds and seem like ghost towns at first sight. And so María Sonia Cristoff becomes part of the village Cañadón Seco, the first stop of her journey. As she waits endlessly for a bus, she meets people, enters their lives for a short while and listens to stories.  She stays much longer than intended and it is the sudden aggression of the stray dogs that tells her it is time to leave. There are recurring moments where the chronicler turns from observer into the observed. Her refreshingly different report is a blend of essay and literary narration which includes quotes of old travel reports, newspaper articles as well as autobiographical elements. It is also a journey back to her childhood, from which she clearly remembers a general feeling of being forgotten by the world, which is so widely spread among the people of Patagonia.

 

Patagonia takes off its mask and shows one of its most authentic facets.

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Bajo influencia (“Under Influence“) is both a subtle parody on the world of the arts and a story about an era continuously in motion, in which originality has become devoid of meaning. Cristoff’s protagonist Tonia, a freelance editor and workaholic, starts to change when she gets to know the passionate walker and wannabe artist Cecilio. Her detailed observations depict a society bordering on the laconic.

 

In fact, Bajo influencia makes for powerful, ingenious and unpredictable reading.

Perfil

 

This novel confirms that Cristoff is an exceptionally artful narrator.

Patricio Fontana, writer

 

 

 

Novels:

Falsa calma - Un recorrido por pueblos fantasmas de la Patagonia

Buenos Aires: Seix Barral 2005, 221 p.

Germany: Berenberg 2010

 

Desubicados

Buenos Aires: Mondadori 2006, 123 p.

Germany: Berenberg

 

Bajo influencia

Buenos Aires: Edhasa 2010, 207 p.

Germany: Berenberg 2013

 

 

Participation in anthologies:

ÜberLebenskunst

Germany: Suhrkamp

 

Südamerika. Der eigene Kontinent

Germany: Le Monde Diplomatique, forthcoming in May 2011

 

 

Edited by María Sonia Cristoff:

Pasaje a Oriente. Narrativa de viajes de escritores argentinos

Buenos Aires: Fondo de Cultura Económica 2009, 424 p.