martes, diciembre 18, 2007

festive, vibrant novel

By Ramón Díaz Eterovic, chilean writer.

Gabriel Caldés and Omar Peréz have published the novel "Fallopian tubes". A novel written by "four hands" which represents a new phase in the authors’ literary work developed in their previous books of poetry, stories and chronicles. "Fallopian tubes" reveals the lives of two students studying political science at the University of Chile, and portrays their experiences against the tumultuous, political times of the early seventies. Many of the situations encountered in this novel, I did not experience, but I learned of them when I arrive to study at the University of Chile. They formed a certain mythology amongst all those studying at the time, a time that saw the rise and formation of the Popular Unit, which polarized the student body, and many students that graduated during those years took on prominent political roles, which some still hold today.

The novel is a loaded, emotional portrait, brimming with good mood and sharp irony, of students studying political science in a time of great political upheaval. It’s an agile story, entertaining, well structured, and full of attractive personages. A novel of notable literary quality. Romance, political activities, students stories, these are some of the elements that the novel conveys on various level pertaining to the human condition.

Julían Condeminas and Jordi Castell are two old students that, after many years, encounter each other in the Copenhagen airport terminal. It has been 29 years since they had seen each other, and as many of their contemporaries, they were saddled with a history of political persecutions, exiles, broken hearts, disenchantment and a certain amount of cynicism towards the changes in their lives and those of the country they were from.

The encounter triggers memories and the decision to write a story that reflects the tumultuous and enriching times in which they were dedicated to live, in their words, passionately, to its fullest. The first few chapters of the book deal with the encounter of the two friends, while the remaining chapters re-live their numerous emotional experiences. “Trompas de Falopios” is a novel of longing, the settling of past accounts, a novel about maturation, transitioning from moods of joy to those of sadness, from a childhood of freedom to an adulthood of harsh realities.

The novel is not only about past experiences, its aims at, and achieves a more significant end: it accurately portrays and captures the sentiments and angst of thousands of university students during one of the most politically charged moments in Chilean history. The characters are two young men that live and share the political and social changes of their times, during the years of the Allende government, a time of revolution and enthusiasm that took hold in the hearts of many youth. Our two young men share their political studies, their first loves, against a backdrop of tremendous liberalism that had taken hold of the country. Thus the novel reflects a time, a period when students engaged in voluntary work of Peña de los Parras, enjoyed taking political classes, and relished in being a part of a historical process that would produce radical change.

For us who lived through that period and the events narrated by the authors, the novel’s lure is based on remembrance, remembrance of a time past and its experiences. For young readers, the novel provides a unique historical account of a period that I feel has not been adequately recounted within Chilean fiction. The novel avoids angry and hostile tones and gives way to a voice that is festive, vibrant, not based in myths of the time, but rather in its reality. As stated by one of our protagonist, while reflecting upon his thoughts, he tries to “illuminate the collective, drunkenness of happiness, of sexual fervor, of rituals and games and the aggressive courtship that the times imposed upon everyone.”

In Trompas de Falopio one can take in the spark of the moment, the pulse of a country that was betting on a different future. History, as we know, told a different story, and because of that, this novel, more than a call for nostalgia, is an invocation of happiness, to believe, as a popular slogan says, that another world is possible.

Translation: M. Williams
Latin American and Caribbean Studies

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