“The lies in novels are not gratuitous — they fill in the insufficiencies of life. Thus, when life seems full and absolute, and men, out of an all-consuming faith, are resigned to their destinies, novels perform no service at all. Religious cultures produce poetry and theater, not novels. Fiction is an art of societies in which faith is undergoing some sort of crisis, in which it’s necessary to believe in something, in which the unitarian, trusting and absolute vision has been supplanted by a shattered one and an uncertainty about the world we inhabit and the afterworld.”
—Mario Vargas Llosa, the New York Times’ “A Storyteller Enthralled by the Power of Art“
Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter and The Storyteller—I’ve been meaning to read these for quite some time now; yet other pressing distractions, yes, work and work, kept me from do it. Together with Carlos Fuentes, Jorge Luis Borges, Gabo Marquez, Llosa stayed idle, unflipped, unflinching in the bookshelf collecting dust after dust.
With Januar Yap as your literature teacher, one would always have a taste of Borges and his ontological uncertainty and Marquez and his magic realism.
Encountering the nuances of Latin American literature was astounding. It sets off from the dominant North American and European literature, which reading materials are more accessible to the readers. They, more often than not, solely appeal to the human brain, widening, sharpening, and perhaps reconstructing the intellect of the reader. Latin American literature, however, not only appeals to the intellect but also to the emotion. Should I exclude Borges? Or are his narratives too intellectual subduing further any emotional undertones?
And I consider myself a heart reader actually. I get easily enthralled with passages bearing the images, power of the senses. Cesar Vallejo’s sensibility really struck the reader’s; and though I haven’t consumed the longer narratives of Carlos Fuentes and Eduardo Galeano, the shorts I read was gratifyingly moving. I encountered their essays from The Graywolf Annual Five: Multi-cultural Literacy back then. They are too rooted in their place.
Writing a book is a very lonely business. You are totally cut off from the rest of the world, submerged in your obsessions and memories.
— Mario Vargas Llosa