May 14, 2021

'Irande', a door to the language and culture of Guaraní through literature | Culture

'Irande', a door to the language and culture of Guaraní through literature | Culture

The massacre in the community of Kuruyuki, located in the southwest area of ​​Santa Cruz, is an indigenous genocide perpetrated in 1892 and few remember in this department and in Bolivia. Throughout history, these events were narrated by several historians and writers until the late writer and researcher Elio Ortiz decided to capture these events on paper "in the Guaraní style", as his people like to tell their story: through of the story. That's how it was born, in 2015, Irande (Santillana), the first Bolivian novel written in the lexicon of this South American indigenous people, which According to UNESCOe is in a "vulnerable" situation, The work was released this year in Spanish (Editorial 3600) thanks to the translation of the Guarani writer and friend of the author Elías Caurey.

Ortiz's wish was that the novel be divulged, in Guarani or in Spanish, even if it were in debt, recalls Caurey. He presented the work to the Guaman Poma de Ayala Narrative Prize in Original Language in mid-2014, with the hope that, through this channel, the work could see the light of its publication. Due to a pulmonary complication, the writer died in August of that same year without being able to get to know the recognition he obtained. Irande. Although at the beginning Caurey was reluctant to translate it, his friendship with Ortiz, the requests of relatives, friends and the idea of ​​opening the doors of the Guaraní culture to the rest of the world were all that was needed to finalize the edition in Spanish.

Cover of the Spanish edition of 'Irande'.
Cover of the Spanish edition of 'Irande'.

The story of the novel recreates the Guaraní world of Bolivian Chaco of the late nineteenth century, shortly before the Kuruyuki rebellion. In her transition from girl to woman, the young Irande must perform for a year with the shelter ritual, while her grandmother and the other old women pass on the myths and wisdom of the Guaraní way of being, while the community prepares for a party unforgettable. However, not everything is joy: there are indigenous people from this town who live enslaved in the haciendas and some await the time when the world turns and the darkness arrives.

"Irande is a Guarani name, which has the name of the protagonist of the novel, but in its meaning is the name of a fish called irandeta. This fish passes and the fishermen know that the fishing season has ended until next year. Exactly, Irande is that in his message, that it will be the hinge between the time that is going and the new time that is coming, it is the last one that will go through that time, that is why it is the girl who went behind the primal time ", Explains Caurey by phone.

"The life of a free community"

The Bolivian writer Liliana Colanzi, finalist for the Gabriel García Márquez Short Story Award 2017, was the editor of the publication in Spanish and one of the main promoters, according to Caurey, for the work to be translated. For her, having a perspective like the one of Ortiz of the facts of Kuruyuki, that writes from the guaraní cosmovisión, provides an "invaluable cultural frame from which to read these facts". "Irande It is a fictionalization of the events that led to the massacre, which I find very interesting because the Guarani understand their history through myths. And it is revealing that it focuses not so much on the situation of slavery in which many Guaraní del Chaco lived but rather on life in a free community, not influenced by Christianity, where the ñande reko [modo de ser guaraní]", Says the editor in one of her responses to a questionnaire sent by EL PAÍS.

Colanzi, which this year was included in the list Bogota 39 of the best writers in Latin America under the age of 40, highlights the role of the Guaraní woman in the work, which is far from the typical figure of the male hero, also that "is far from being a muse or a woman who has a passive role in your community. " He also states that Irande it can be read as an indigenous learning story, but without the introspection of the western novel. "His learning [de Irande, la protagonista] It is not an individualistic process, but involves the whole community. Even the sense of community is broader than the Western, because it includes not only human beings but also animals, plants and gods and guardians of things, "says Colanzi.

Irande It is only the fourth work written in Guarani around the world. The other three –Kalaito Pombero, by Tadeo Zarratea; Pore ​​'and monkfish, by Hugo Centurión and Tatukua, by Arnaldo Casco- were published in Paraguay. According to the Interactive Atlas of the endangered world languages ​​of UNESCO, this language is in a "vulnerable" situation in the face of its future survival. Caurey and Colanzi faced a "tough challenge" when translating and editing the text. The writer, who is also the author of the poems Yayandu Ñeere (Poems Guaraní-Castilian), he thought that he would be able to have the novel ready in a time of 15 to 20 days, sitting down to work exclusively on it. The reality was different, since the translation took around six months. He admits that it was difficult, because although he is an author who writes both in Spanish and in Guaraní, he is not a linguist.

"It's one thing to be Guarani and another to reflect on your language, so in that situation I had to consult many elderly people, grandparents and grandmothers, to help me decipher some words in their true essence. I understood them as Guaraní, but I did not know how to explain them in Spanish because I did not fully understand them from the perspective of my people, "Caurey concludes.


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