The dictatorship still casts a big shadow, though sometimes indirectly, as in Sobrevivientes (Shipwrecked) by Fernando Monacelli. Twenty-five years after the war in the Falklands, a mother finds the frozen body of a soldier, her son, adrift in a lifeboat near the Antarctic. In other cases it is barely perceptible or merely metaphorical. Soy Paciente (Patient), a novel by Ana María Shua, tells the story of a man who goes into hospital, but its irony and black humour conceals scathing criticism of the dictatorship. Carlos Bernatek operates along similar lines. “The 1970s are lurking in all my novels,” he says. “But I refuse to be over-explicit. I would rather the reader guessed.” He pauses for thought, then adds: “As Argentinians we are still living with people who, though they may not actually have tortured anyone, were accomplices to torture … If you add that to the memory of the [American] Indian genocide, during colonisation, and the fact that towns like Bariloche, in Río Negre province, welcomed Nazis on the run after the second world war, you begin to understand why Borges said that ‘being an Argentinian is an escapable act of fate’!” No doubt in an attempt to escape this fate, some authors have looked elsewhere for inspiration. They have fled in their imaginations to Mexico or France, as with Federico Jeanmaire in Vida Interior (Interior Life) or Pablo de Santis in El Enigma de Paris (The Paris Enigma). Others, such as César Aira and Sergio Bizzio take refuge in absurd, eccentric tales. Rodrigo Fresán and Leandro Avalos Blacha revel in fantasy, whereas Selva Almada moves to the country, in a deeply personal novel. In another form of flight, Damian Tabarovsky experiments freely in Autobiografia Medica (Medical Autobiography), combining a narrative form that defies classification with philosophical inquiry. So there is a lot going on and it is very diverse.
Leave a reply