Mario Bellatin (pronounced Bay-yah-TEEN) se ha convertido en un éxito inusitado en Estados Unidos luego de la publicación de Salón de Belleza en inglés por City Lights Books. Hace unas semanas fue entrevistado por Larry Rohter en The New York Times, quien comentó que la novela está unida a otras sobre peses como La peste de Albert Camus y Ensayo de la ceguera de José Saramago (también se cita la introducción de la edición inglesa, donde a Bellatin se le relaciona con David Cronemberg, David Lynch y Frida Kahlo). En la nota citan unas palabras de Francisco Goldman:
"People often say, with a lot of truth to it, that all good fiction writing comes from some wound, out of some distance that needs to be breached between a writer and normalcy. In Mario’s sense, the wound is literal and comes with all kinds of psychological nuance and pain, and seems related to sexuality and desire, the desire for a whole body. One of my favorite aspects of him is this sense that he is writing for all the freaks — either literally freaks or privately and metaphorically, that he really touches us (...) ".
Otros temas que se tocaron fue su apariencia de Capitan Hook, su vida en Perú y su retorno a México, su nombre sufí Abdul Salaam, los temas y las formas de sus libros (esta vez Goldman se refiere a Duchamp como método de construcción) y también el éxito que tienen sus libros en ciudades como París o Buenos Aires. Sobre París, además, hay una noticia asombrosa. Al parecer, sus libros aparecerían primero traducidos al francés por Gallimard:
In one index of his growing international reputation, Mr. Bellatin recently signed a multibook deal with Gallimard, the prestigious French publisher, that calls for his next several works to be issued in France before they appear in Spanish in Latin America. As usual he has seized on that opportunity to make mischief: rather than publish his original manuscript here, he intends to have someone else render the French translation back into Spanish.
Por otra parte, en la prestigiosa The World también lo entrevistan acerca Beauty Salon. Ahí comenta algunas de las citas de la entrevista en NYT. Dice por ejemplo:
The World: In what ways is “Beauty Salon” representative of your work? Many critics talk about your impishness as a writer, but this short work feels disturbingly serious.
Bellatín: I pretty much wrote this book in a state of unconsciousness, while recovering from an emotional crisis, so that many of its characteristics became apparent to me only after it was finished. Curiously, I discovered that the book had become the repository of a series of motifs I’d been working on almost since my childhood, for instance, the loquacity of silence, the creation of closed, self-contained worlds, ruled only by their own rules, and the body as a central element of these universes—in my view, the more luminous the more abject.
The World: Would you consider yourself a “black humorist”?
Bellatín: I try not to think of myself as being anything, because I know that the day I feel I’m carrying with me some kind of label will be the beginning of the end.
The World: Critics have compared the nameless plague in “Beauty Salon” with the mysterious afflictions in Albert Camus’s “The Plague” and Jose Saramago’s “Blindness.” Is there a political significance to the book’s vision of people on the margins of society facing an implacable illness?
Bellatín: At the time I wrote “Beauty Salon,” I was developing a kind of Biblical trilogy, and this book belongs to the theme of the plague—to its constant recurrence, to the different disguises it adopts on each appearance, and to the rhetoric that almost immediately grows around it. And as I wrote—as I said, in a state that was like that of a zombie—people were dying around me in the most atrocious way and in the midst of an even more terrifying social discretion. These people, these friends, didn’t even have the right to complain, to scream, to be heard by anyone before they died. It was as though what existed didn’t actually exist. Reality was creating a book that lived up to what I had always wanted a book to be. Maybe this one contains something of the echo of a voice that is trying to pierce through a gag.
The World: Why do you think your writing is more popular internationally than in Mexico? Has the critical reaction at home changed what and how you write? Are you writing for an international audience now?
Bellatín: I don’t think so. I really don’t know what happens with books. Sometimes I find someone who’s read something, but most of the time it’s people that know I’m a writer and that’s what interests them. Almost always it’s with them that I get along the best, since many times the mediation of writing between people forestalls a more personal dialogue, which is what really interests me. To save myself from my own writing, from a writing that is made for itself in the first instance, but upon which I try to bestow the elements that a reader needs in order to traverse it, a writing that is produced with the sole aim that it allows for the appearance of more writing.