Spanish wisdom, from hookers (and me)

Spain. With the possible exception of the one I’m trailing around now, it’s my favourite country on earth. For many reasons, including a sense of social solidarity and the fantastic pragmatism of Spanish women. Madrid’s sex workers have been displaying both, refusing to sell sex to bankers until those blood-suckers start lending money to the small businesses that need it most.

I’m particularly thrilled with the timing of the strike; it seems somehow fitting that it coincides with the publication in Spanish of La Sabiduria de las Putas. Four years after The Wisdom of Whores was first published in English, Sexto Piso is publishing it in Spanish. This makes me happy in part because my favourite bookshop in the world, Madrid’s Panta Rhei, will now have a Spanish version to put on their shelves (though my humble tale of sex and taxation will feel dowdy among the fabulous art and design books that are Panta’s stock in trade).

For a brief moment, I worried that Sabiduria would seem very dated. For better or for worse (for worse, I guess) and despite the change in regime in Washington and a growing recognition that countries need to “Know their epidemic”, there’s an awful lot in the book that is as relevant today as when I first drafted it six years ago.

Sabiduria is being published mainly because of the determination of Javier Rio Navarro, a Basque epidemiologist who, with the stubbornness of his tribe, takes on tasks that would make Hercules faint. He established Bilbao’s first safe injecting room for drug users, for example. And he translated The Wisdom of Whores. He’s now banging his head against various (hard) walls in Central America, trying in particular to get mental health services to people who are constantly beaten up or beaten down by their street-based lifestyle. (pdf) I thank him with all my heart for making La Sabiduria possible.

This post was published on 27/03/12 in The sex trade.

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