The journalist, writer, screenwriter and critic, Miguel Briante, is one of Argentina’s outstanding yet hard-to-classify intellectuals from the last quarter of the twentieth century. Admired by colleagues like Ricardo Piglia, María Moreno and Juan Martini, he published just four short story books and one novel in his lifetime. Kincón – the local pronounciation for ‘King Kong’ – is the story of an obsession, a tale born in the early 1960s as a short story and transformed in the mid-1970s into a choral, polyphonic novel pulsing with blood and life. The novel is open to many possible readings: as a social novel, a political argument, an essay on how to construct reality. But there is no doubt: this is one of the most important novels of Argentinian literature of the last forty years.
The story of Bentos Márquez Sesmeao – a.k.a. Kincón, a real-life character from the author’s hometown of General Belgrano, Buenos Aires Province – begins when Bentos is torn from the jungles of Brazil’s Mato Grosso and inserted into life in the Argentinian Pampas. Here he is different, strange. From that moment, the story explodes into an endless panoply of tales and voices that weave a web of different points of view. Kincón/Bentos Márquez Sesmeao represents ‘otherness’, and Miguel Briante’s narrative skill ingeniously contrasts the different uses of language and their tensions in his descriptions of reality.
So they wouldn’t hate you, Kincón, even if it weren’t true, even if half those things’d been invented. So they wouldn’t hate you, when the greatest sin a man can commit in these towns ain’t killin’ another fella, or stealin’, or bein’ a police informer, or becomin’ a rustler or a bank robber, but what you done without knowin’ it: wakenin’ folks’ imaginations and unsettlin’ them with your fame. Folks’ in these towns have some fierce imaginations. I know, it’s about you, not them, not us, not me. But in the long run you are us, or part of us at least; our best invention. And forgive me, y’all please forgive me, but I’m gettin’ on now, and for all they say I never spit – that means I never shut up – I must be right about somethin’. But I quit explainin’ myself, explainin’ yourself.