From Bolivia, this author brings us stories full of magical realism, science fiction, and truths between the lines
What’s it about?
“Our dead world” is a collection of short stories by Liliana Colanzi, one of the strongest voices of contemporary Bolivian literature. It is made up by eight stories, each one in a different setting, but all of them with elements of science fiction and magical realism that allow exploring hidden facets of human nature. For instance, the story that gives the book its title is about a woman who is part of one of the first human colonies in Mars, who ran from a lover who is now on Earth, who does not want to hear from her again.
My favorite story was probably “Alfredito”, with which Colanzi opens the book. In this story, the author erases the lines between life and death. She includes Bolivian indigenous beliefs – in fact, Bolivian aboriginal culture is protagonical in most of the stories – because the protagonist of the story is a girl whose Nana is an indigenous woman, who eats the girl’s lice, and who tells her that the dead never leave us, truly. The protagonist’s voice is clearly defined. In this story, the elements of magical realism are very well carried out, because the story reads as truth, despite breaking the rules of our reality.
Each story stands high on its own, but I’d like to highlight “The Wave” and “Cannibal”, because they are two great examples of sceneries and images of fantasy that talk about the reality of human experience.
Who wrote it?
Liliana Colanzi was born in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, in 1981. She has a PhD from Cornell University, in Ithaca, New York, where she currently works. In 2015, she was awarded the Premio Aura Estrada de Literatura in the Oxaca Book Fair, which is given every two years to hispanic writers who are under 35 years old and live in Mexico or the United States. In 2017, she was a finalist for the Premio Nacional de Cuento Gabriel García Márquez, which is awarded in Colombia by the Department of Culture and the National Library. Her work has been translated to English, French, and Italian.
Read or pass?
If you are a reader of science fiction or if you like magical realism, this book is a good option. Besides, it is a great way to open the door to Bolivian literatura, and contemporary Latin American literatura written by women, which seems to be at a climax.
Latin American Post | Laura Rocha Rueda