She began her career in as a journalist, working for outlets such as NBC, CNN, Univisión and Telemundo, covering presidential coups, elections, Olympics, the 9/11 terrorist attacks, both Iraq wars; which she executive produced, and winning an Emmy in 1994 for her human-interest series “Madres en la lejanía,” about the plight of Latino mothers who leave their own children behind and come to the United States to work as undocumented nannies.
She has written for Urban Latino, TV Más and the International Documentary Association magazine, written and produced lifestyle programs and documentaries for MGM Latin America and in 2002, wrote and developed the sitcom “Great in Bed” for HBO Latin America.
THE HEARTBREAK PILL is her first novel. And today she is sharing her thoughts on the writing of this novel.
The Post-Feminist Chick
By Anjanette Delgado
Okay. So I’ve done it. I’ve written a novel and gotten it published by a major publishing house. And now, some of my more “literary” friends are attacking me for it.
You see, in a world where people still wonder if “we’re ready to elect a woman candidate,” and where most of the people who engage the question readily admit that it’s their notion that “excess emotion is dangerous,” that first brought up the question in the first place, I have written a book about a Latina scientist who may have discovered the formula for a pill against heartbreak, after excruciating betrayal left her unable to function. And so people who haven’t even read “The Heartbreak Pill” now derisively call it chick-lit, which must mean I’m anti-feminist, a traitor to the cause, not to mention wholly unliterary.
That criticism is actually normal in a world where we’ve come to equate chick-lit with brain-dead and in which feminine heartbreak is a superficial, or even worse, a superfluous topic.
But chick-lit is simply literature written by, and aimed at, women. Like all literature, good examples reflect the issues, struggles and aspirations of contemporary female society. Yes, it’s true there seem to be many books about talented assistants in glamorous professions who can’t get ahead because their mean bosses keep them from the wonderful jobs they were meant to have, and who are simultaneously dealing with men unwilling to engage in committed relationships, who in the end figure out how to produce the life they dream of.
It’s called aspiration. And it does reflect our times, though I’m only arguing for those well-written, from the heart, books that feel true to those writing them. Not for the blatant copies of the copy of the copy. Those are another phenomenon, if not enough there for another story.
And if aspiring isn’t part of being a contemporary woman in the world, it should be. It’s part of being a woman in America, and it’s certainly a big part of being a Latina woman in America. This verse from my poem, “Women in the Land of Having” might more effectively drive home both points.
Alicia is just a Woman Who Loves
Too Much, doesn’t know The Rules and hasn’t figured out What Men Want.
She watches Sex and the City on DVD,
twelve for the price of one,
nothing more to buy ever,
hopes to become a butterfly,
be Codependent No More; change
her life for $12.99
And so, on that note, I say let’s bring back the real meaning of chick-lit, the one that gives it a place in the world of global post-feminism.
The difference? Well, I think New York Times Book review columnist Laura Miller made the point squarely when she said about “Fear of Flying” that it was “about a flawed but endearing young woman trying to sort out her life in a world that suddenly allowed women a lot more leeway” and differentiated it by its humor and frankness. These days, it is about having figured out that the corner office, in and of itself, wasn’t all that, or maybe that being a woman didn’t mean having children because everyone had them… or that we weren’t all meant to “have it all.” That is chick-lit: a book that can be a friend with whom to look inside and figure ourselves out, and with which, regardless of what we find, we can laugh about afterwards.
Somehow, I’m feeling an irresistible urge to reread, Pride and Justice. And I’m going to indulge it, whether Loreal says “I’m worth it” or not.