Affections by Rodrigo Hasbun

Affections by Rodrigo Hasbun

Bolivian Fiction

Original title –  Los Afectos

Translator – Sophie Hughes

Source – Review copy

Another review for this years Spanish lit month and for the blog a new country a rare occurrence these days. Rodrigo Hasbun has published two novels and was one of the writers chosen a few years ago for the Hay festival Bogotá 39 collection of Latin american writers he was also on the list of the Granta best Spanish writers under 35 in 2010. Two of his stories have already been made into films .Affections is his second novel and the first to be in English.

Papa and my sisters had been in the jungle for months so mama and I spent that christmas on our own. It was the best one of my life.

I shouldn’t say this, it was our little secret, but I will anyway: while we prepared dinner, I smoked for the first time.

it was Mama who offered it to me.

“Want a drag?” she asked out of nowhere.

I smiled it was unbeleivable.

I was almost thirteen. Twelve and ten months to be precise

Trixi with her mother who starts her smoking at 13

Heidi , Monika and Trixi are three sisters, their father is Hans Ertl one of those mad german Explorer that was also a talented cameraman who had worked with Leni Riefenstahl on her early Nazi films as he had pioneered  a number of unusual camera styles and thus when the war end he took his family in 1950’s to Bolivia as he search adventure again, taking his daughters to the heart of the country and the poverty that it was suffering at the time what effect it has on his daughters seeing this horrors. Well one escapes to the city and is drawn into the way it can make her invisible from herself and her family. The other Monika is drawn to fight alongside the poor of the country and in her own right is well-known as a terrorist and freedom fighter . The other turns her back and returns to Europe to a domestic life. The story unfoldss in little bites of storries each interconnecting and passing the story of the sisters and their father.

But it’s no exaggeration to say that ultimately it was Monika who I thought about more than anyone. I was twenty six, and then twenty eight and twenty-nine , and sex was my way of holding on to my youth. In the moment these women I would start to feel safe again, but a few hour later I’d invariably ask them to leave. How it was possible that someone who never belonged to me kept returning I don’t know, but monika was always present, watching me screw those other women.

A strange dynamic that remind me of the images of olympia the young people exercising almost had a sexual feel to them,

I enjoyed this it remind me in a way of  Che Guevara book the motorcycle dares where he like Monika also saw the poverty and dark side of Latin america and like Monkia took up arms. she also took over from Che in Bolivia after he moved on . Elsewhere I saw echos to their fathers past where one sister is drawn to younger men the old she gets to keep her young it was like the scenes in the film her father made Olympia with loads of virile young men.The family slowly grows apart in the heat of the Latin america, LIke the Klinkl characters in the Herzog movies the father is drawn to the adventure of the land. Whilst it is also a drama of a family falling into pieces and driving in the wind like shatter shards.

Have you ever read a book from Bolivia ?

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