The Woman Who Invented a House

21 Feb

Good books continue killing me from love, literally.  I continue surrendering to the stories that captivate and take you from cruel reality to the even more cruel unreality.

I allow myself these play on words because ever since I met Mariela Varona Roque, or “The Female Dog” as we, her friends, know her (Her husband, a rock Guru from Holguin is called “The Male Dog”), she has never ceased to surprise me.

Her latest book, published by an emerging editorial company for novelists in Cuba, and now sponsored by the “Onelio Jorge Cardoso” Center of Literary Formation, has come to be an expulsion of those stories that did not form the body of a more complete text.

From that very small apartment in a workers building, Russian or German, but in the style of the most gloomy of horror movies, she keeps trying every day to paint a picture of a world darkened by the lack of affection of human beings.  Mariela is post-experience, I don’t think she cares about a future for us, her readers, just like her characters don’t care either.  Her fictional creatures range from vulgar suicide, without any existential philosophy, to the mockery of the most absurd death.  Between the pleasure and the disease  which love produces, Mariela reverts to demonstrate the darkest sides of human existence.

Books should also serve the purpose of teaching, but when a book describes what you already have lived, then you realize that it has been excellently written.  The House of the Discrete Farewell functions like a mirror.  It is filled with insinuations to living a loneliness less humiliating, to continue walking towards nothing or to let oneself be taken by the philosophy that friendship is a wolf that attacks you at every step; the book, much like Mariela’s house described in the book which was constructed by prisoners during the 80’s in the past century in Villanueva Complex, invites us to pass by, see, and then close our eyes in order to exist, at the mercy of what we are capable of noticing.

Born in Banes and a professional Electrical Engineer, Mariela Varona Roque has published her tales in various anthologies and even obtained the coveted Cuban Gazette Story Award.  I like her brutal way of narrating, because she does it without any artifices (I have yet to find any) or at least she makes it seem that she doesn’t use any.  At least in her magisterial piece, “Black Dog“, she shows the best of this generation, which, together with Ana Lidia Vega Serova, Ena Lucia Portela, and Oneyda Gonzalez, take the narratives made by women on the island to a level of true interaction with us, her readers, who are her most direct addressees.

I feel like I have only one obligation — that is to discover the best of the generations of Cubans who are saddled with very absurd editorial politics, which authorize publication only for authors who are less problematic.  But even so, there still emerge those who are capable of creating a country, a city, or a house, as Mariela Varona Roque has done.

Translated by Raul G.

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