Lilliana Ramos Collado Reviews Ana María Fuster’s “(In)somnio”


In Bodegón con teclado, Lilliana Ramos Collado reviews Ana María Fuster Lavín’s novel (In)somnio [San Juan/Santo Domingo: Isla Negra Editores (2012]:

(In)somnio is an impeccable narration about the wounds caused by repression, a jewel of language, a novel that will leave the readers in an altered state of consciousness after tasting the terror implicit in gender violence that is explored therein with great deftness and audacity. The horror story is always the same: a subject who doubts the memory of his/her own person and of the world; a sinister past that returns; an irreparable loss; dark solitary confinement; ink never sufficiently spilt.

The temptation of the “gothic novel” is this: to make the protagonist tell his/her own story, and thus, present his/her consciousness as a locus of doubt, desolation, and terror. The gothic proposes a key question: does what is being told belong to the real world or does it only exist in the mind of the narrator? Is the narrator sane or insane? In our misogynist culture, women are often protagonists of the horror novel. In the Gothic genre, there are more madwomen than madmen.

For Anne Williams, in Art of Darkness, there are two types of Gothic novel: the male gothic—patriarchal household, verbal expression, questioning of culture and alliances of class and gender—and the feminine gothic—the mother, the locked room, writing, the unconscious, nature, and sexuality. When speaking, the gothic male implies that there is another who will listen. When writing, the gothic woman implies loneliness—she does not write for anyone. The writer of a thousand faces in (In)somnio seeks to put on paper—for no one in particular—her hallucinatory experiences in a cruel world.

[. . .] Fuster Lavín deploys her powers: beautiful language, a wealth of literary and cinematic allusions, and the careful anatomy of the oppressed female psyche. The women who narrate in (In)somnio are so many faces of the writer, and I suggest that this fragmentary novel is a fictional “literary autobiography.” The writer, locked in the narrow room of an asylum that is the world itself, tries to explain, among other things, the origin of her writing. [. . .]

For the full review, see

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