Review of Rita Indiana’s “Hecho en Saturno”

hechoensaturno

“El Che Guevara no era Mick Jagger” is a review by Inés Martínez Rodrigo (ABC) of Rita Indiana’s latest novel, Hecho en Saturno [Made in Saturn (Periférica, 2018]. Martínez Rodrigo says that, with this novel, the Dominican writer offers a generational portrait of a revolutionary Latin America. Here are excerpts of her review:

Saturn became literary flesh in Book IV of Ovid’s “Fasti.” Therein, the Roman poet told the story of the god who, for fear of being dethroned, ended up devouring his children. Many centuries later, Francisco de Goya portrayed the scene in one of his most emblematic works, which can be seen Museo del in the Prado. And, now, writer Rita Indiana (Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, 1977) has borrowed, once again, the myth, to revisit it in fiction. In  «Hecho en Saturno» (Periférica), her latest novel, the deity changes gender and appears to be the very revolution that boasted of bringing freedom to Latin America and ended up failing in the attempt, leaving multiple and abandoned children around her. Kindred offspring like Argenis—protagonist of the story with which Indiana, one of the most talented voices of current Caribbean literature—portrays that lost generation that continues to struggle so as not to be devoured.

Blinded, Argenis lands in Havana, a city to which his father, a former revolutionary hero-turned-servile politician of the Dominican government, has sent him to a detox program; from there, he returns to Santo Domingo, with the disappointment of having discovered, in full disengagement, his father’s true nature. It is the failure of the political ideals of the Latin American left of the 60s and 70s: “The new man that Che spoke about, who came to change the world, ends up being a stiff, corrupt politician who only thinks about the pleasure of food,” summarizes Indiana, during her [recent] visit to Spain.

The writer has many friends like Argenis, who grew up in the shadow of their parents’ ideological passion, and have not had to struggle, because they were given everything. Facing them, are those who have tried to perpetuate the struggle of the family members they lost, to continue their quest, without really knowing what they are looking for. “We are a generation that has been like a sandwich, between the heroism of the ‘baby boomers,’ who believe they invented everything, and now the wonderful entrepreneurship of the ‘millennials.’ We are a bit like an Oreo cookie, between those two very strong ‘landmarks’ is a generation that is a little lost.”

Ideology

The socialism breathed by the parents of this generation “smelled of lavender soap and new textbooks; it was a magic potion against the ugliness of the world.” This was perceived by Etelvina, Argenis’s aunt and one of the most attractive characters in the novel. “They were not always clear about what they were pursuing, they had not gone deep into ideology at the theoretical level; they called themselves communists because they had read the Communist Manifesto or because they had an idea of Che Guevara as I can have one of Mick Jagger, a kind of ‘rock star’ that was never questioned.” In her opinion, a somewhat “frivolous” view of socialism—”very youthful, very naïve”—that “did not have enough support to become something productive at a political level and simply became a series of assumptions, which is the most comfortable [situation].” [. . .]

Excerpts translated by Ivette Romero. For full review, in Spanish, see https://www.abc.es/cultura/libros/abci-guevara-no-mick-jagger-201807080202_noticia.html

 

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