"Ten Thousand Men" by Patricio Pron
Argentine-born writer Patricio Pron can be included among a wave of contemporary transcultural writers coming out of Latin America.
These writers, which include Andrés Neuman, Valeria Luiselli, and Eduardo Halfon, have spent many years living outside of the country where they were born. As such, their writing tends to look beyond national borders and instead to look at the global connections that have influenced their lives.
FOTO: LUNA MIGUEL. MADRID, 2010
Patricio Pron was born in Argentina in 1975, did his graduate work in Germany, and currently lives in Madrid. He is the author of various short story collections, including El mundo sin las personas que lo afean y lo arruinan (2010), La vida interior de las plantas de interior (2013) and novels including El comienzo de la primavera (2008), El espíritu de mis padres sigue subiendo en la lluvia (2011) (My Father’s Ghost is Climbing in the Rain, Tr. Mara Faye Lethem, 2013) and Nosotros caminamos en sueños (2014). His work has received numerous prizes, such as the Premio Juan Rulfo de Relato 2004, has been translated into Norwegian, French, Italian, English, Dutch, German and Chinese, and has been included in many anthologies. Much of his work, both that which portrays Argentina and that ignores the country, highlights the complicated relationship to national identity that he, and others of his generation (Alejandro Zambra being the most well-known), has experienced.
Pron’s story “Ten Thousand Men” (“Diez mil hombres” in its original Spanish) first appeared in Letras Libres August, 2012 and was then included in his collection of short stories La vida interior de las plantas de interior, published in January, 2013. Following the peculiar lives of the many characters that move through these stories, Pron’s collection brings to mind the short stories of his Argentine compatriots Jorge Luis Borges and Julio Cortázar, as he examines literature and literary creation in a cosmopolitan context. In a space where the disrespectful, the sweet, and the disheartened coexist, Pron’s writing paradoxically blocks his characters from fully understanding their own situation while also allowing them – and his readers – freedom of interpretation. “Ten Thousand Men” does just this: the protagonist is left utterly confused about the existence of the philosopher in question, but he – as well as the reader – are thus given the freedom to determine for himself that man’s existence.
While Pron is still relatively quiet on the English-language literary stage, his work merits greater international attention for the way that he envisions the twenty-first century from the perspective of a writer who questions national borders.
— Sarah Booker
Sarah Booker is a doctoral student in Hispanic Literature in the Romance Studies department at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Her translation of Patricio Pron's Ten Thousand Men is included in Spachbund Issue 1.