Tuesday, December 25, 2018

The role of novels in society

Héctor Abad, a Colombian novelist, answers this way when asked what literature can play in forming his country's historical memory:

I believe that novels are condensing machines for stories. In a farm, the history of a country can be reflected, because history passes through its terrain and leaves traces. The war leaves traces. In Gabriel García Márquez, one massacre stands for all the massacres. In Evelio Rosero, armies without a name can be the guerrillas, the paramilitaries or the regular army. In Juan Gabriel Vásquez, German Jews are treated like Nazis during the second world war. In Santiago Gamboa, sex is the substitute for many other frustrations. In my novel Oblivion, a good man murdered becomes the symbol of many innocent victims killed unjustly. Novels help us understand and understand each other.

I love Latin American novelists—they write a lot like Filipino novelists. We are related in more ways than we can imagine, having been colonized by Spain for many years and so on.

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