Manuscript help, book reviews and author interviews
JENNIFER CLEMENT has studied literature in New York and Paris. Among many honors for her work, the internationally acclaimed novel PRAYERS FOR THE STOLEN was awarded the National Endowment of the Arts (NEA) Fellowship for Literature as well as the Sara Curry Humanitarian Award. Clement lives in Mexico City and was President of PEN Mexico from 2009 to 2012.
We reviewed Prayers for The Stolen and also caught up with Jennifer. Check the review of the book here https://thegoodbookcorner.com/2014/09/23/prayers-for-the-stolen-by-jennifer-clement/
tgbc: You mention that Mexico is a warren of hidden women. How so?
Jennifer: Women are hiding all over Mexico. Even the countryside is filled with dugout caves and holes in the middle of fields. Many poor farming families have secret rooms in their homes where they can hide their sisters and daughters from the constant raids from drug traffickers who steal their women. Some women hide in secret shelters and homes throughout the country. In one town in the south of the country I visited a convent that was built in the seventeenth century and that still houses an order of Catholic nuns. Dressed in their white habits, they knit and shuffle through the dust-covered rooms. There is an old piano that looks as if it has not been opened in decades. Every nun is over the age of seventy-five. In the basement they had hidden twenty women and their children.
There are also women hiding in hotels. I visited the wife of the pilot for an important trafficker. She lived in one room with her children and her mother. She told me that everyone on the eighth floor is a person who is in hiding. Some people who are supposed to be dead are alive.
tgbc: I read somewhere that violence against women is ‘pandemic’ in Mexico. What are the reasons according to you for that?
Jennifer: In Mexico the greatest problem is impunity. This is due to the breakdown of the justice system and the justice and the corruption in the police departments. Violence against women is pandemic in the world, not just Mexico.
tgbc: What is your favorite moment in the book?
Jennifer: When Ladydi falls in love with Julio, the gardener, and it is love at first sight.
Jennifer: If you invited us for dinner, what Mexican food would you cook for us?
Chiles stuffed with cheese, red rice and black beans and blue tortillas. For dessert we would have mamey icecream.
tgbc: If there was a super power you could have, what would that be?
Jennifer: Other than the power of creating peace on earth, cleaning the pollution, reversing global warming and creating gender equality with a snap of my fingers, I’d like to be able to fly.
tgbc: Who are your book mentors?
Jennifer: Apart from the obvious canon, I would underscore George Eliot, Zora Neale Hurston, Emily Bronte, Charlotte Bronte, Cormac McCarthy, and Juan Rulfo.
tgbc: What is the best compliment you have received for your book?
Jennifer: “Prayers for the Stolen gives us words for what we haven’t had words for before, like something translated from a dream in a secret language” – NYT Book Review
tgbc: What is your typical day like?
Jennifer: I get up before sunrise and sometime in the day I eat chocolate.
tgbc: A quote you swear by
Jennifer: Never quote a bad review in an interview.