From the daring Peruvian essayist and provocateur behind Sexographies comes a fierce and funny exploration of sex, pregnancy, and motherhood that delves headlong into our fraught fascination with human reproduction.
Women play all the time with the great power that’s been conferred upon us: it’s fun to think about reproducing. Or not reproducing. Or walking around in a sweet little dress with a round belly underneath that will turn into a baby to cuddle and spoil. When you’re fifteen, the idea is fascinating, it attracts you like a piece of chocolate cake. When you’re thirty, the possibility attracts you like an abyss.
Gabriela Wiener is not one to shy away from unpleasant truths or to balk at a challenge. She began her writing career by infiltrating Peru’s most dangerous prison, going all in at swingers clubs, ingesting ayahuasca in the Amazon jungle. So at 30, when she gets unexpectedly pregnant, she looks forward to the experience the way a mountain climber approaches a precipitous peak.
With a scientist’s curiosity and a libertine’s unbridled imagination, Wiener hungrily devours every scrap of information and misinformation she encounters during the nine months of her pregnancy. She ponders how pleasure and pain always have something to do with things entering or exiting your body. She laments that manuals for pregnant women don’t prepare you for ambushes of lust or that morning sickness is like waking up with a hangover and a guilty conscience all at once. And she tries to navigate the infinity of choices and contradictory demands a pregnant woman confronts, each one amplified to a life-and-death decision.
While pregnant women are still placed on pedestals, or used as political battlegrounds, or made into passive objects of study, Gabriela Wiener defies definition. With unguarded humor and breathtaking directness, Nine Moons questions the dogmas, upends the stereotypes, and embraces all the terror, beauty, and paradoxes of the propagation of the species.
PRAISE FOR SEXOGRAPHIES
“No other writer in the Spanish-speaking world is as fiercely independent and thoroughly irreverent as Gabriela Wiener. Constantly testing the limits of genre and gender, Wiener´s work as a cronista (which roughly translates, but is by no means a direct synonym, of nonfiction writer) has bravely unveiled truths some may prefer remain concealed about a range of topics, from the daily life of polymorphous desire to the tiring labor of maternity.”
—Cristina Rivera Garza, author of The Iliac Crest
“This collection of essays [opens] on the outskirts of Lima, jumps to a swinger’s party in Barcelona, and next a squirt expert’s apartment. This book can feel psychologically hazardous to read; it pushes you to answer the questions Wiener asks herself: Would I? Could I? Will I?”
—Angela Ledgerwood, Esquire Best Books of 2018
“These are essays of unabashed honesty and uncommon freedom of mind, bravely reported and beautifully composed. I hadn’t known how hungry I’d been for this book, how I’d needed it and wanted other books to be it. Sexographies is an antidote and a revelation, and Gabriela Wiener is a brilliant documenter of sex and life as they really are.”
—Kristin Dombek, author of The Selfishness of Others
“In her native Peru, Gabriela Wiener has a reputation as a gonzo journalist who takes an active role in whatever subject she investigates, which as often as not involves sex, and not the vanilla variety. In this collection, her first translated into English, we meet a notorious polygamous pornographer; go to 6&9, a Barcelona sex club; interview the cruel Lady Monique de Nemours, a world-class dominatrix; visit Vanessa, a member of the European community of Latin American trans sex workers; get a first-hand look at the perils of threesomes; and explore other topics a tad too risqué to even name in a family newspaper. Suffice to say, Wiener’s free-wheeling style is hugely entertaining.”
—Sarah Murdoch, Toronto Star
"Reading Gabriela Wiener is a joy. Over the years, her work has made me cry, laugh, hurt, and most importantly, dream. Her essays are daring, intimate, and honest, containing the self-awareness of a poet and the sharp focus of a marksman. I'd follow her anywhere."
—Daniel Alarcón, author of At Night We Walk in Circles
“One of the most interesting writers of this generation is Gabriela Wiener, a Peruvian journalist best known for her high-spirited explorations of female sexuality.... Wiener is witty and fast-paced; many of her experiences, sexual and otherwise, are hard-won, territories explored and sometimes conquered, despite her neurotic misgivings, with courage and aplomb. Part of her appeal lies in the fact that she sometimes writes about sexual topics that have not been well explored, especially by women, and a sense of incredulity is part of the pleasure of reading her work. ‘Is she really going to do that?’ the reader wonders. ‘Is she really going to write (and so openly) about doing that?’ And then she does, and there’s a slight but perceptible shift in the world because she did.”
—Lisa Fetchko, Los Angeles Review of Books
“With sizzling prose and journalistic attentiveness, Wiener honors the no-clothes rule. She exposes her readers to not only her body, but also to the neuroses, fears, and fantasies that come with it. True to the first-person style of gonzo journalism, each of Wiener’s fifteen transgressive crónicas pull readers into penetrative commentaries on infidelity, abortion, and threesomes, not to mention the ever-elusory ‘Ninja Squirt.’... Sexographies strikes the delicate balance between carnal and curious…. It [expands] the meaning of what pleasure in life can be, sexual or otherwise.”
—Madeline Day, The Paris Review
“What Peruvian essayist and “gonzo” journalist, Wiener, does in this collection is endlessly fascinating. Whether experiencing sexual subcultures or an ayahuasca trip, she uses herself as the point of departure to delve into the infinite manifestations of being human.”
— Keaton, Brazos Bookstore (Houston, TX), Best Nonfiction Books of 2018
“Gabriela Wiener is a Peruvian sex writer, and Sexografias is a book of her collected essays. However, she doesn’t just stay on the carnal, and uses her explorations of egg donation, swingers parties, cruising, and squirting as channels into meditations on motherhood, death, and immigration, all while staying sharp and funny and wild.”
— Alejandra Oliva, Remezcla
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Gabriela Wiener (Lima, 1975) is author of the crónicas collections Sexografías, Nueve Lunas, Mozart, la iguana con priapismo y otras historias, and Llamada perdida. Her work also includes the poetry collection Ejercicios para el endurecimiento del espíritu. Her latest book is Dicen de mí (2017). She writes regularly for the newspapers El País (Spain) and La República (Peru). She also writes for several American and European magazines, such as Etiqueta Negra (Peru), Anfibia (Argentina), Corriere della Sera (Italy), XXI (France), and Virginia Quarterly Review (United States). In Madrid, she worked as editor of the Spanish edition of Marie Claire. She left the magazine in 2014 to work on her first novel.
ABOUT THE TRANSLATOR:
Jessica Powell received her BA in International Studies from Vassar College, her MA in Latin American Studies from Stanford University, and completed her Ph.D. in UCSB’s Department of Spanish and Portuguese, specializing in literary translation and twentieth-century Latin American Literature. Since completing her doctorate in 2006, she has published dozens of translations of literary works by a wide variety of Latin American writers. She was the recipient of a 2011 National Endowment for the Arts Translation Fellowship in support of her translation of Antonio Benítez Rojo's novel Woman in Battle Dress (City Lights, 2015), which was a finalist for the PEN Center USA Literary Award for Translation. Her translation of Wicked Weeds by Pedro Cabiya (Mandel Vilar Press, 2016), was named a finalist for the 2017 Best Translated Book Award and made the longlist for the 2017 National Translation Award. Her translation, the first-ever into English of Pablo Neruda’s book-length poem, venture of the infinite man, was published by City Lights Books in October of 2017. Recent translations include Edna Iturralde’s award-winning book, Green Was my Forest, published in September, 2018. Jessica has been an adjunct Spanish Professor at Santa Barbara City College, and also works as a subtitler, editor and adapter for film and television. She lives in Santa Barbara with her husband, Abe Powell, and their two children, Olivia and Leo.