The children by Carolina Sanin

The children by Carolina Sanin

Colombian Fiction

Original title – Los niños

Translator – Nick Caistor

Source – review copy

When I started the blog ,I be hard pushed to have name more than one writer from Columbia that wasn’t Marquez but in the years in between we have seen a wave of new writers from Columbia Rosero , Vasquez and Gamboa .Now here is another name to add to that list . This is her first book to appear in English and her second novel she has taught in New york hispanic studies and is considered a rising talent .

Laura Romero heard that the woman  who watched the cars outside the supermarket was offering her a child. She heard her say “I’ll keep a child for you “. But Laura was not sure whether the woman really did watch the cars. She knew that when she finished her shopping , she gave her some coins as if to pay, and that her car had never gone missing . Maybe that was because she only left it there during daylight and when there were lots of people about , but it was also possible that the woman had some influence over the car thieves.That she was their mother , for example

Before Fidel arrives Laura misses what she said at the supermarket.

The children is one of those books that is hard to put in a category. The story Follows Laura after she is going to the supermarket one day and like other days she is met by a beggar woman , but is ask if she wants her a child thinking no more of it she gives her some money .But later that night a boy appears outside her house .The boy fidel know nothing other than his six years old . So she sets off to find out about this boy. Laura herself is a strange character as the story unfold she has money from her families salt mines  , she works as a housekeeper as she like to clean and sort the  houses she works in  a strange OCD, but doesn’t need the money . She is reading Moby Dick maybe the boy is her Moby Dick as he seems to have come from nowhere and maybe at points he has trance like fits you wonder is he real or maybe like the whale in the mind of the crew a ghost that isn’t real just in Laura’s eyes in Moby Dick a metaphor for something else .Then we she Laura battling the bureaucracy in what is a Kafka like nightmare  race to find out about Fidel  as she sees how slow the wheels turn.

Brus became aware of Fidel’s existence before she did it was shortly before midnight on Saturday , and laura had just filled the hot-water bottle she took to bed with her.The dog began to bark and then howl, and in between could be heard sobs that  seemed to have been learned by heart, as if they came  from a child who knows he is too big to still be crying like that . Laura titled her head that way Brus did when se asked him something , and realised that the sound was coming from the street, on the right-hand side of the building as you looked out. She went onto the balcony . A boy was looking up from the pavement, three storeys down. As soon as he saw her appear , he stopped crying

Fidel appeared and was noticed by her dog Brus .

This is one of those novels that leaves you with more questions than answers, much in the vain of a number of latin American novel particular Evelio Rosero .But also a framing of a lost child or ghost child that has frequently appeared in literature . Also a connection between a woman and a child that isn’t her child this is a theme that appeared in Fever Dream. Add to that Laura is reading Moby Dick a book itself that is about obsession and ghosts. This is a clever novella that like Fever dream from this years Man booker shows the strength of latin american fiction.


Stories by Sergio Ramirez


Stories by Sergio Ramirez

Nicaraguan fiction

Translator – Nick Caistor

Source – personnel copy

Sergio Ramirez trained as a lawyer ,he worked in Costa Rica in the early 1970’s for the central american university then went to West Berlin to start a writing scholarship ,he was  also was vice president of Nicaragua he has had numerous books published and was a leading figure for the sandinista  as a member   group of twelve people who support the movement in the fight to free his homeland  .

My shoulders had broadened , my waisted had slimmed down , and my legs had firmed up .Scarcely four years after that big bully had kicked sand in my eyes ,I was a different man ,Ethel one day showed me a photo of the mythological god Atlas in a magazine . “Look” she said , ” he’s just like you ” Then I knew I was on the right track and would one day fulfil my dreams .

From the story Charles atlas also dies .

Stories is a collection of eight stories ,we travel from his home to the Us and Old west Germany .We meet a young man who has fallen in love with body building via the works of Charles Atlas and then is shocked to discover how his hero has fallen ,I was reminded in this story of the film  Geordie with Bill Travers where a Scottish boy meets a body builder (Charles Atlas )he had followed only to find a broken man I wonder if this was the inspiration for this story ? as the film was from the fifties ,Next is Jakie O  about  to visit his homeland of Nicaragua and set a country club on edge but is all it seems ? an ageing baseball player  occupies another story   ,also the perfect game of baseball  is another story  ,,a family in West  Germany end up with a Latin american student as the rented Santa Claus  over their festive period !

The news that Jacqueline Kennedy was to visit Nicaragua caused a great Commotion in the smartest circles .What passes for high society felt both immensely flattered and at the same time confused ,left in the dark as to the whens ,where’s and hows ,that is , when Jacqueline (Jackie to us ) would be setting foot on our soil

Is she coming from the story to Jackie with all our heart .

As you see there is some with in these stories  ,A look into the lives of ordinary Latin Americans and there dealing with them  both at home and in the wider world  with a chunk of satire and a wry eye at people’s views of the world .He maybe isn’t so well-known these days , but Ramirez was a major voice in central and latin american literature in his day  and a large political figure as well .I have also his novel a  thousand deaths plus one has sat on my shelves for a number of years but will being get read for next years century of translation project .Have you read him ?

December 2019
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