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Best of 2018: Books

by LEO BOIX

 

THIS has been a year of outstanding fiction and poetry published in Britain from Latin America and Latinx writers.

Resistance by the Brazilian writer Julian Fuks (Charco Press) is a powerful and brilliantly written work that not only deals with the important issue of the “disappeared” during Argentina's dirty war from 1976 to 1982, it also focuses on personal and national memory, belonging, the different forms of exile and the enduring bond of brotherhood.

Fuks, himself the son of Argentinian political emigres in Sao Paulo, has protagonist Sebastian telling the story of his elder brother, an adopted son who struggles to make sense of his own identity and his ultimate place in a family unit displaced by violence and genocide.

The Line Becomes a River by Chicano writer Francisco Cantu (Bodley Head) is a harrowing account of the deadly routes that thousands of immigrants take daily to try to cross the border into US.

It's an honest and moving memoir of human tragedy and systemic failings from a writer who spent fours years as an agent for the US border patrol working in the deserts of Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. His account details the massacres, the narco burial grounds and the deportations, interspersed with historical reflections on the creation of the US-Mexico border.

The Children (MacLehose Press), by Colombian writer Carolina Sanin is a haunting novel that sheds light on the abandoned children of Bogota. A heart-rending work, it's imbued with humanity, intelligence and social awareness.

With its strange ghosts, fabled whales, uncanny dreams and apparitions, this novel of love, loss and compassion has supernatural moments akin to the magical-realism movement of the 1970s and 1980s in Latin America.

As for poetry, A Greek Verse for Ophelia (Out-Spoken Press) is a collection of beautiful and dream-like poems by Colombian poet Giovanni Quessep, while Citizen Illegal (Haymarket Books) by Latinx poet Jose Olivarez is a fearless debut collection.

Olivarez, the son of Mexican immigrants in Chicago, explores head-on issues of mixed-race identity, ethnicity, class and immigration within the Latinx community, combining dark humour and sharp social critiques with a potent emotional drive.

An encouraging year indeed for Latino fiction and poetry in translation.

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