August 4, 2021

The man who was Friday: at 61 the Argentine writer Juan Forn dies

The man who was Friday. Thus, with a nod to Chesterton’s novel The Man Who Was Thursday, an anthology of the contratapas published Qué Leo by Argentine writer Juan Forn, who died this Sunday of a heart attack, was titled, according to the newspaper Página / 12 .

He had been living in Villa Gesell for several years, away from Buenos Aires after a pancreatitis that almost collapsed him forever about 15 years ago. At times he declared himself disappointed in the books, without much encouragement to write, but the apathy was not reciprocal: the Latin American literary circuit never forgot him.

“The news is a cold, inexplicable bucket: this Sunday, due to a heart attack and at the age of 61, Juan Forn, writer, translator, editor, founder of the Radar Supplement and columnist of Página / 12, an inescapable figure in Argentine literature, died. since the novel’s launch Captive hearts above (1987) and especially from Swimming at night, the brilliant collection of narratives that seemed to beat in the reader’s hands, which appeared in 1991 ″, was the way to announce the news through that Argentine medium.

The holder’s reason The man who was friday he was referring to the contratapas he wrote for 10 years on Fridays on Página / 12. In them, Forn could go from a story about Japanese art with an anecdote by the engraver Hokusai, to review the history of the Rolling Stones through the autobiography of Keith Richards, through the gaze of Clarice Lispector, the narrations of Kawabata, and the life in Brazil of the poet Elizabeth Bishop.

“Forn had an endless curiosity to explore the folds of History, to look for detours where great things worthy of being narrated shine, waiting for their discoverer. And he narrated them with the talent of the shamans, telling us those pieces of life by the fire, spreading the passion and the charm of revealing the unknown, what magnetizes us. Merging literature and journalism as if it were simple. Without seams, “said journalist Eduardo Fabregat in his obituary for Página / 12 about the author born in 1959 in Buenos Aires, part of a wealthy family with a withdrawn personality.

Once, faced with the meaning of his praised works, or at least what he would like them to mean for some of his readers, Forn expressed: “I like to imagine that every Friday it has been like one of those stones found on the beach and put on a side by side along the shelves of books that surround a table, where two or three or four people talk and smoke and drink, and absentmindedly pick at one of those stones and warm it between their fingers for a while and then leave it Abandoned among empty cups and full ashtrays. And when everyone leaves, I put it back on the shelf and turn off the lights, and tomorrow, hopefully, I’ll come back with a new one from my walks on the beach ”.

Author of novels as Swimming at night, Frivolity Y Mary Domecq, Forn also had an active job as an editor. The management of the Tusquets collection “Rara Avis” was one of his last editorial adventures.

After knowing his death, Tusquets published that social networks: “Tusquets and Grupo Planeta mourn the death of our editor and author Juan Forn. In his celebrated work, Forn immersed himself in the most unexpected corners of literature, art and science in recent decades, in search of the keys that defined that time of avant-garde and catastrophes. We will miss you, Juan ”.

The artist Liniers also shared: “How sad to learn of the death of Juan Forn. A brilliant writer and my first editor in a newspaper (Radar-Página / 12 supplement). A hug to your friends and family. Thanks, Juan ”.

Meanwhile, the writer Mariana Enriquez also sent a long text, which starts from a personal experience; Forn, through editorial Planeta, was the first editor who trusted her and who worked on her first text. “(The novel) was going to be published by Jorge Lanata in a collection that bore his name, aimed at young people. But Juan took it from him. Saw something in that book. I trust him. He wanted it, “he recalled, and then finished off:” Juan Forn changed my life. I can say that to two or three more people and that’s it. “

That was part of Forn’s nose: discovering talents, polishing them, and then giving them a shine of their own. It also happened with another important pen of the Argentine narrative of the last time, Rodrigo Fresán.

With a generation of contemporaries from his country, including Cristina Civale, Marcelo Figueras and Charlie Feiling, he infused trans-Andean lyrics with renewal, grouped under the concept of “rockeritos”, due to the links they established with musicians of that time. , and also for wanting to leave behind some forms of the most classic and traditional storytellers.

Chilean author Alberto Fuguet also took advantage of his digital platforms to say goodbye: “Juan Forn is gone. At one point he welcomed me like an angel who appeared for Santiago. Then he made me change the title of my first novel and gave me his translation of #brightlightsbigcity, which he christened #lucesdeunagranciudad and recommended many authors (“you don’t know what it is …”) It was for a while, in the 90s, an older brother, a beacon, a guide. He even agreed to be part of McOndo. He was my editor and took out Mala onda (in BsAs by South of Planet Library). I saw it here and there. I associate it with an analogous era. It was, no doubt, # uncompañeroderuta. Thanks for picking me up from the berm. His story Nadar at night I associate it with summer, the Zone, death and it is, by the way, a Latin American top story.

“I hope you keep swimming every night and that it is never cold there in that eternal pool,” Fuguet concluded.