Lessons From a Sequoia Grove, from Professor De Robertis

Tuesday, January 07, 2020
Photo of the Giant Forest in Sequoia National Park

LOS ANGELES REVIEW OF BOOKS -- Carolina De Robertis is a writer of Uruguayan origin. She is the author of four novels, most recently “Cantoras.” She teaches at San Francisco State University, and lives in Oakland, California, with her wife and two children.

“I didn’t understand myself yet as queer or gay, not with my conscious mind. I couldn’t possibly have known that nine years later my parents would break off contact with me, when I married a woman, or that in the process, they’d say I could no longer be Uruguayan because I was gay, that gayness was so foreign to Uruguayanness, such a first-world invention, that it could expel you from the culture,” De Robertis wrote. “In the late ’90s, when immigrant and Latinx modes of queerness were not in reach at the tap of a hyperlink, my parents’ words held psychic power. Their words would propel me on a search for the hidden queer narratives of Uruguay, and that search would ultimately give birth to novels, as well as to an authentic life once deemed impossible, with a family of my own creation that I love so fiercely it almost hurts, like staring at the sun. None of this future was visible to me as I stood in that forest at 17 years old, euphoric, high on trees. I knew only that the sequoia grove had opened me, filled me with awe and shown me, if not myself, a vast, glowing complexity to which I hungered to belong.”