March 5, 2021

‘The unknown dimension’ of the Chilean dictatorship | Culture

The Pinochet dictatorship and its atrocities are the thick line of The unknown dimension, by Nona Fernández (Santiago, Chile, 1971). The fine one describes specific cases of disappearances, torture and detentions, the ordinary life of those who cause violence, of those who suffer it and of a generation that grew up in an apparent state of paralysis. The book, which won the Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz 2017 Literature Award, is the fourth installment of the collection Real crimes, of the country. It is available (5.95 euros) both in kiosks and in Collections website From the newspaper.

The narrative has as its starting point the statement of Andrés Antonio Valenzuela Molares to a journalist in 1984. The man goes to a magazine that opposes the regime to tell what his job is as a member of the secret service of the Air Force. Its functions are to stop, torture and execute. Valenzuela's story moves beyond expectations. He presents some of his prisoners, the relationship he establishes with them, how his personality is mutating until he reaches the point of not being able to kiss his wife or son. From the regret or bad conscience of the protagonist, the writer gives light to the process by which a man can become a torturer. "Unlike many of his bosses and his companions, he failed to assimilate cruelty as something natural and inevitable," He presented in an interview with EL PAÍS.

Fernandez She was tempted to write a fiction story, but the material she found about the victims was so delicate that she discarded the idea and adhered to reality. He investigated the life of a father who is arrested on a bus while taking his children to school, that of a prisoner who thinks he sees a spaceship that comes to his rescue, that of a boy who changes his name and life and is a witness of a massacre. Thus he was configuring "that gray area where horror coexists with daily life" which is The unknown dimension.

‘The unknown dimension’ of the Chilean dictatorship

He needed to complete the stories, so he added his own childhood memories, common to an entire generation that grew up at the end of the dictatorship. "The children did not understand well what was happening, but our life was organized around the curfew," he recalled in the newspaper interview. The author says on the back cover of the book that the stories told in The unknown dimension They have always been on their heels: "I was born with them incorporated into a family album that I did not choose or organize."

The jury of the Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz award, which Fernández picked up at the Guadalajara International Book Fair (Mexico), highlighted the work: “Halfway between journalism, literature and personal memory, Nona Fernández manages to show the emotions of an entire nation regarding a black and perhaps shameful past. ”

The collection Real crimes, in which the title is inscribed, compiles 25 black chronicle books based on popular cases. The series began with The impostor, by Javier Cercas, and continued with Williamson projectby John Grisham, Y Gomorrahby Roberto Saviano. Behind the unknown dimension will arrive, among others, Black dahliaby James Ellroy; A criminal novelby Jorge Volpi; The eighth victimfrom P.D. James; The divine by Laura Restrepo, and Road Hill Murder, from Kate Summerscale.

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