“There is no worse ending than dying without knowing what happened to a missing son”

The Galician writer Manuel Jabois speaks today, November 26, at 7:00 p.m., in the State Public Library, in a new edition of the literary meeting ‘Not only books’. Jabois will talk about his second novel ‘Miss Marte’ in which he deals with the disappearance of a girl in strange circumstances in 1993 during her mother’s wedding and the investigation carried out by a journalist 25 years later.

What did you want to reflect in this second novel?

Everything that surrounds the tragic disappearance of a girl and the unruly, funny and tragic consequences that take place after 25 years when a journalist sets out to make a documentary about that disappearance.

Is it based on a real event?

No, it is fictional, but there is obviously inspiration from, unfortunately, so many tragic cases of disappearance of children. As in the Canary Islands, for example, that of Yéremi Vargas, that of Madeleine McCann. Examples abound, all with unfortunate endings. And in the book, more or less, what is said is that there is no more unfortunate end than that of uncertainty, that not knowing the truth, nor knowing the lie, that the fact of dying without knowing what has happened. spent with your son. That’s the worst. Much worse than being told that he has died, of course, is living your whole life thinking that you do not know what happened to him. You have lost it in a way where you are not even given the remains of a dead son.

These are the same words that Marta del Castillo’s parents say in the documentary Where is Marta?

Yes, although with Marta, at least, they know that she is dead. They do not find the body, and obviously every father and every family has the right to have the remains of their relatives, that is sacred, but they know that she is dead. She has confessed to the murder and they know who killed her. Imagine that they don’t know anything about it at all. That they live their whole lives thinking that maybe they will cross the street and they will find it. Knowing that this is impossible, but that a parent never loses hope. And so day after day. Go out into the street without knowing that.

And how has the plot been woven?

I wanted to bring together the two most extreme temperatures in the first chapter. The temperature of the heat, which is the temperature of love at the wedding, the happiest fact that is the founding of a new family, the reunion of friends and loved ones. And in the midst of the most extreme and coldest temperature and there is no greater trauma than the disappearance of a small child, practically being a baby.

“The great difference of the novel with journalism is that in the first the rules are set by you”


A current issue taking into account what happened to the boy from Logroño.

Yes, but mind you, it took seven minutes for the murderer of that child to kill him. Well, maybe a person loses a child and does not know about him for another 25 years if it is later discovered that he is dead. No one is going to give you back those 25 years. The moment he disappears, it is a tragedy yes or yes, whether he later appears at the age of 25 or appears a few days later. It is your son and that’s it and there is no greater drama.

And can not there be some responsibility of the parents in this type of event?

That is not the parent’s responsibility. That’s life. You cannot be 24 hours attentive to your child all the time. In fact, your duty is to lose sight of it from time to time. I’m not saying lose sight of a baby for five minutes next to you. But with a three-year-old who already knows how to walk, you cannot spend 24 hours staring at him. That a child disappears from your sight for two minutes and in those two minutes a son of a bitch takes the opportunity to take him away, that’s not your fault. I can’t help sitting with my son and going to the bathroom for a moment and when he comes back he is gone, what I can’t do is piss in front of him so he doesn’t lose sight of him. Parents may have the right to stop seeing their child for two minutes. What cannot exist are gentlemen who, in two minutes, have the capacity to kill or kidnap a child. That is what to avoid.

But it is clear that there is the fragility of childhood.

But it is a fragility that lasts 13 years, and 13 years for 24 hours is many hours to be looking at them all the time. You can not. For example, I leave my son at school and due to an instinct that many parents have, I stay at the door until I see him disappear into the yard, but for a matter of superstition. There is extraordinary protection with children now. But I remember in the eighties that your parents accompanied you until a certain age and you went out to play and stayed until night. Not because the world was safer, which it surely wasn’t, but there was more confidence. And the parents were no longer detached. And right now we live in a time when I don’t dare to let him play with only 9 children.

But sometimes there are circumstances that make this outcome inevitable.

You educate your children and your mission is to protect them, but then there is a society that is around you. Some neighbors, some friends who go to school with you, some parents of your friends. I understand that a person can kidnap a child when no one sees it. But it is inconceivable that in a crowded square, if it is the environment of your neighbors and friends, it could happen too.

What is the difference between writing in your journalistic work and writing a novel?

In that in the novel I play without rules. In journalism there is a marked playing field and you have to respect it because it is journalism or not, but you do not have it in the novel. It gives you more freedom but, at the same time, it gives you more responsibility in the sense that you have to know when you are going to stop the game, know when it is offside. Know it because they are not going to whistle it, and in that sense, it is more complex. I have enjoyed much more with the facts, with non-fiction, with journalism. But I’m having a great time with the novel.

And with a plot that immediately engages.

It is important that in these moments where there is so much disintegration and so many people changing the subject with the touch of a finger, that entertaining things are written. Entertainment must be honored in any activity. What is done has to hook people although I like to start high and finish high.


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