April 18, 2021

Miguel Bonnefoy The Journey of Octavio and Black Sugar

Miguel Bonnefoy The Journey of Octavio and Black Sugar

There are people who are always saying goodbye to places. People who are squeezed by the seams of the world and for whom the corners of time are offensively small. They go, yes. But with farewells that refuse to be total. Miguel Bonnefoy (Paris, 1986) is one of them. This 33-year-old writer grew up on horseback between Caracas, Chile, Portugal and the walls of the Sorbonne, the historic Parisian university that saw him become a Literature teacher. The words have become the warm, soft and implacable umbrella of the winner of the Edmée de la Rochefoucauld Award for new writers, with which to protect themselves from the social upheaval that the Venezuelan country is currently experiencing. "When I finished my studies in France, I went to have a drink with friends to celebrate that we were already teachers and without barely noticing, we were immersed for two hours in a conversation about the position of the comma in the work of Proust. At that moment I realized that behind the comma there was another reality. How to what extent, being a Venezuelan, I knew absolutely nothing about what was really happening in my country. And to be able to do it, I had to leave the French bubble, "he says.

With the determination to change this situation and the fervent security of being able to do it, he went to Venezuela and was there working for four years for Fundarte, the cultural arm of the mayor of Caracas during the revolution, whose main task is to seek the true horizontality of culture. "I had a schedule where on Monday I prepared some film screenings, on Tuesday I had literary meetings, on Wednesday the programming of an exhibition or on Thursday a small theatrical performance of puppets. All of that had to go to Venezuelan neighborhoods to seek to promote only popular cultures and be able to bring them to the center of Caracas showing that there was no hierarchy in the culture. That there was no noble culture and a bastard culture, "he adds. During this period of personal and collective discoveries, encounters, exchanges, answers, lights, questions and different cultural views, the author of "Azúcar negro" (Armaenia publishing house) -a virtuous allegory of the oil curse- acquires a committed social perspective with a city that until now had been unknown to him and manages to compile all the lessons learned and outline the narrative skeleton of his first novel "The journey of octavio" (editorial Armaenia). "When I started thinking about this novel, I was clear about the purpose from the beginning. I wanted to mix the technicality of the creative process with the knowledge of all that Caribbean soup, that Latin American unconscious as ours and see how miscegenation worked with the literary architecture of French writing. If you think about it, this book is nothing more than the classic story of the providential hero who takes a trip, learns things and then returns to his hometown to transform it. In the style of Joyce's Ulysses. The narrative structure is the same, but emotionally what I did was put those different organs, veins, that Venezuelan and French heart to create a paper bridge between the two cultures, "he enthuses.

That bridge of paper that the writer continually tries to draw, serves as a message and as a proclamation of an idea, but also as a way of understanding and practicing the art of literature. Through a very precise example, Miguel Bonnefoy is able to synthesize the hidden beauty of books and establish himself as a promising figure of the contemporary narrative: "Imagine you want to talk about a macaw. The guacamaya, within the phonetic belly of the word guacamaya, already bears that image of a magnificent tropical creature whose heart can beat for almost a hundred years and has the privilege of choosing its partner quickly in the first months. If you kill one of the two, the other dies days later. He really dies of love. And it is so impressive that when it is placed on a branch of a tree it seems that the whole forest is twisting with it. However, if you write the word guacamaya in French, you must put "ara". It is evident that the word does not have the same relief, does not have the same strength, nor the same wood, nor the same perfume. Somehow, the fact of going through the French writing about Venezuela, forces you to sink your hands in the "hairs and belly" of the language, as Neruda used to say, in order to try to balance what you are doing and find meaning. "


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