Hay que sonreír, 1966 (Clara, 1976)
El gato eficaz, 1972
Como en la guerra, 1977 (He Who Searches, 1979)
Libro que no muerde, 1980
Cola de lagartija, 1983 (The Lizard’s Tail, 1983)
Novela Negra con Argentinos, 1990 (Black Novel with Argentines, 1992)
Realidad nacional desde la cama, 1990 (Bedside Manners, 1995)
La travesía, 2001
Los heréticos, 1967 (The Heretics: Thirteen Short Stories, 1976)
Aquí pasan cosas raras, 1975 (Strange Things Happen Here: Twenty-six Short Stories and a Novel, 1979)
Cambio de armas, 1982 (Other Weapons, 1985)
Donde viven las águilas, 1983 (Up Among the Eagles, 1988)
Open Door: Stories, 1988
Simetrías, 1993 (Symmetries, 1998)
Cuentos completos, y uno más, 1998
Peligrosas palabras, 2001 (essays)
Luisa Valenzuela (vah-lehn-ZWAY-lah), Argentine novelist, short-story writer, journalist, and scriptwriter, is one of Argentina’s most significant authors to emerge since the boom in Latin American literature during the 1960’s. As the daughter of Luisa Mercedes Levinson, a prominent Argentine writer, Valenzuela was initiated at an early age into the world of the written word. Her father, Pablo Francisco Valenzuela, was a doctor. She was reared in Belgrano and received her early education from a German governess and an English tutor. In 1945, she attended Belgrano Girls’ School and then an English high school. She began writing for the magazine Quince Abriles in 1953 and completed her studies at the National Preparatory School Vicente López in 1955. Subsequently she graduated with a bachelor of arts degree from the University of Buenos Aires. She wrote for the Buenos Aires magazines Atlántida, El Hogar, and Esto Es and worked with Jorge Luis Borges in the National Library of Argentina. She also wrote for the Belgrano Radio and was a tour guide in 1957. It was during this time that her first short stories were published, in the magazine Ficción.
In 1958, when she was twenty years old, Valenzuela left Buenos Aires to become the Paris correspondent for the Argentine daily newspaper El Mundo. There she wrote programs for Radio Télévision Française and participated in the intellectual life of the then-famous Tel Quel group of literary theorists and structuralists. She married French merchant marine Theodore Marjak, resided in Normandy, and gave birth to a daughter, Anna-Lisa, in 1958. Three years later she returned to Buenos Aires and joined Argentina’s foremost newspaper, La Nación, where she became assistant editor. After she was divorced from her husband in 1965, she went to the University of Iowa’s Writers’ Workshop on a Fulbright grant in 1969. In 1972, she received a scholarship to study pop culture and literature in New York. She then became an avid traveler, living in Spain, Mexico, New York, and Buenos Aires; participating in conferences; continuing her journalism; and cultivating her fiction.
Her first novel, Clara, presents the story of a naïve country girl turned prostitute in Buenos Aires; the girl’s picaresque adventures in a male world alternate between the humorous and the sinister. As the novel progresses, the antiheroine’s forthrightness slowly changes into a pathos under the constant attack of the city’s anonymity, alienation, and male brutality. Valenzuela won the Instituto Nacional de Cinematografía Award in 1973 for the script “Hay que sonreír,” based on her first novel. Her New York-Greenwich Village experience resulted in El gato eficaz (the efficient cat), an experimental novel sustained largely by the innovative use of language and an imaginative plot. In 1975, she returned to Buenos Aires and joined the staff of the journal Crisis. After participating in more workshops and conferences, she left Buenos Aires and settled in New York in 1978, where she conducted creative writing workshops and taught Latin American literature at Columbia University, as well as at other universities in the United States.
Although she has lived much of her life outside Argentina, Valenzuela, like other Argentine women writers, could not escape her involvement with an Argentine society torn by violence, class struggle, dictatorship, and dehumanization. Thus, much of her fiction, though written and published outside her native country, where it was banned, treats such themes as violence, political repression, and cultural repression, especially as they relate to women. Yet, as critics point out, her work continually undermines social and political myths while (unlike that of so many political writers) refusing to replace old mythic structures with new but equally arbitrary and authoritative ones.