Antonio Soler sees the world from above

When Antonio Soler writes, he conjures up a universe made up of daily encounters, situations his friends tell him about, noises from the street, memories, his reading. “El diablo cojuelo” (the lame devil), marked him to the point of inspiring his latest novel “Sud”.

The “Lame Devil”

Written in 1641 by Luis Velez de Guevarra (2), the picaresque work tells how a student who flees over the rooftops of Madrid enters a house where he frees an imp stuck in a light bulb. The latter, to thank him, raises the roofs of Madrid to allow the student to surprise comic intimate pictures. As in the “lame devil”, to write SouthAntonio Soler, “perched” above his characters, figuratively lifting their skulls to discover ” this hidden, obscure face that we all have “.

In the opinion of the Spanish critic, South is his most accomplished novel. There were others like El Camino De Los Ingleses, Nadal Prize (2004), brought to the screen by Antonio Banderas, like him, born in Malaga. The movie theater ? A step aside. His universe is first of all the literature he encountered thanks to Marcel Proust and James Joyce. South, his latest opus, owes its existence in part to the Irish writer of whom he is so unconditional that he created in 2008, with 8 Spanish-speaking authors, “the order of the Finnegans”. Like every June 16, the group goes to Dublin for Bloomsday, the festival that celebrates the life of James Joyce throughout Ireland.

A polyphonic orchestra

That day, as Antonio Soler was walking through the streets of Dublin, he noticed on the pavement, near Trinity College, a plaque indicating that at this precise place one of the scenes ofUlysses. “I thought: why not try to write, in my turn, the novel of an entire city, Malaga, by making all its voices and languages ​​heard? » As Ulysses, South is a kind of radiography of a day, around a proliferation of characters, no less than 220! “ A kind of polyphonic orchestraplaying together » in a city that is supposed to be Malaga, where the « terral » blows, this wind coming from the lands of Andalusia.

In a vacant lot in an abandoned neighborhood, a man who is still alive is lying on the ground. His body is covered with ants which instill themselves in all the orifices of his body and devour him little by little. Around the man, a multitude of characters gravitate in different places, without necessarily meeting.

This half-dead man existed. A doctor friend at the hospital told me that she had been called by the emergency services. They warned her that they were taking her to the emergency room. Beside her, one of her doctor friends listened to the conversation and understood that it was about her husband “. The man, a homosexual lawyer, committed suicide because he no longer assumed leading a double life.

A familiar universe of the author

I wanted to create a universe that reproduces life in a 21st century city with its noises, its characters and their street language, a modern world where talking to each other happens through WhatsApp messages. » A familiar universe of the author. “When I was young, I lived on the streets a lot with my friends. We played football, we fought. Later, we started meeting in bars. We often hung out late at night, I lived in a socially mixed world”.

Antonio Soler is in the tradition of the writers of the Spanish golden age for whom the evocative power of words makes it possible to create imagesexplains Line Amselem, lecturer in literature and cultural history of Spain, at the polytechnic university Hauts de France. In all his works, we find the desire of men, the sensuality of women with burlesque, even coarse moments. South is a very intellectual novel, where the grotesque is mixed with very funny, tasty flowery expressions”, she continues.

A first attempt at 22

Composed, soft and slow voice, Antonio Soler, 66, asserts himself as an autodidact in literature. ” I studied economics, it had nothing to do “. But very young, he reads, devours the novels. Of all of them, Joyce is the one who inspires him ” the diversity and multiple possibilities of writing a story”. He was 22 when he wrote his first essay. His sister reads it and takes it upon herself to send him to a competition. He is award winning. Encouraged, he embarked on a first novel at the age of 27, while living ” apart from the literary world “.

On the lookout for the world around him, he always continues to observe, lifting the lid on lives, like his friend the “lame devil”.


Joyce or Proust? Both !

“I don’t know if I’m more Joycian or Proustian. Reading James Joyce’s Ulysses, I had the feeling of an incredibly diverse treatment of language. For me, it was like walking into a store and choosing from all the possibilities. Reading Marcel Proust, the feeling was different. I had the impression of having discovered an immense river with a surprising flow like the Ganges, the Mississippi, the Nile. With Joyce, it was the impression of having an immense multitude of small streams forming a large delta, with a flow rate similar to that of Proust. »

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