Modern Spanish Literature

The Case of the Missing Writer-Traveler: Constructions of Self in Voy by Gabi Martínez

By Jovana Zujevic

Dr. Jovana Zujevic gave a presentation at the American Comparative Literature Association’s 2018 Annual Meeting at the University of California, Los Angeles (March 29th to April 1st).

Her paper examined the writing of the self through travel and literature in the novel Voy (2014) by contemporary Spanish author Gabi Martínez. Combining elements of autofiction, travelogue, and literary journalism, Voy is composed of interviews between the protagonist – a Chilean journalist in search of the missing novelist Gabi Martínez – and Gabi’s former travel companions. Having disappeared in New Zealand while looking for the bird moa – a legendary animal supposedly extinct – Gabi could be considered as a fictional equivalent of his eponymous creator. Dr. Zujevic’s analysis shows that the plural and elusive self of the missing writer and avid reader is gradually constructed by piecing together multiple and often contradictory travel narratives told by his former partners, friends, and enemies. Drawing from Adriana Cavarero’s theory of selfhood, she argues that these stories emphasize the importance of storytelling in the construction of a “narratable self;” Gabi’s physical absence in the novel only serves to reinforce the inverted relationship between narrative and self. In this manner, in both its structure and content, Voy demystifies the image of writer-traveler as a present coherent self, an adventurer who precedes and produces all narrative.

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