The starting point already says a lot about the novel. Every time the character of Selma dreams of an okapi, someone dies in the next 24 hours ... or a little more. This happens in a small village in the mountainous imaginary Westerwald region. Its inhabitants and some assiduous visitors gather characteristics, live facts and do things without apparent fit or logical connection but in fact they fit.
It happens as with the features of that strange mammal present in the title of the book, the work of the German Mariana Leky,
The day that Selma dreamed of an okapi
(Seix Barral). This is an animal "with legs of zebra, rump of tapir, reddish brown body similar to that of giraffes, roe deer eyes and mouse ears", as described at the beginning of the text.
Every time the character of Selma dreams of an okapi, someone dies in the next 24 hours ... or little more
The germ of the fantastic narration of Leky (Cologne, 1973) It was his idea to "invent the character of a woman who had experienced something horrible in her childhood and that will lead her to confuse love with death" An original idea; It may be strange, but it gives a lot of itself. In the novel, that woman is Luise, Selma's granddaughter. She also possesses her own supernatural gift or misfortune -without anything to do with her grandmother's-, and every time she tells a lie something falls to the ground: another of the many inexplicable facts that the writer is including in history as who does not want the thing.
"The Rmagic realism it also exists in Germany ", defends the writer in her conversation with La Vanguardia while admitting her admiration for Gabriel García Márquez. The village of Westerwald - it also accepts - can be considered a kind of Germanic Macondo. There are obvious similarities, such as the fictional character of both populations and the unreal or surreal nature of the things that happen in both. And there is a deeper common ground, he explains: like the inhabitants of Westerwald, the characters of the Colombian writer "are clearly imaginary but project some sincere feelings and completely comparable to what people have in reality, "he says.
I wanted to turn death into something that is part of normality "
Among the many peculiarities of The day that Selma dreamed of an okapi, perhaps the most important is the emphasis and special treatment that Leky gives in the novel to the fatal end that awaits us all. "I wanted to turn death into something that is part of normality," he says. And his narrative addresses that goal from the beginning, despite the resistance of some characters that do not fail to reflect the most common human reactions to the grim reaper. "It seems that we always try to hide the fact of death, perhaps because we see in it the thief who comes to steal everything we have."
The blind fear of the lady of the scythe has its greatest exponent in the postman of the town. One of the times that Selma dreams of an okapi, and conscious like everyone else of what comes next, the guy convinces himself that the slightest movement he makes will be he who dies. "The fact is that days and even months after the dream and that someone had died later - the mother of the shoemaker - the mailman was just as convinced and also just as still," so he just sits there forever. "The joints were inflamed by the lack of movement, the blood clotted and paralyzed the lower part of the body and, finally, also the heart." And this is how man dies: from pure fear of dying.
"Love is like the judicial agent that arrives to seize a house: it appears suddenly and stamps its stamp on everything you have to make it clear that it does not belong to you anymore", thinks Luise
The parallelism that Leky establishes between death and love, especially through Luise's fears to one and the other equally, is based on the author's consideration that "there are many similarities between both." Which ?, we ask. "Well, first of all, we never know when or how they are going to come." And maybe our somewhat irrational dread of death comes from the fact that "it is the great unknown of our lives," he replies.
Towards the middle of the book, Luise thinks: "Love is like the bailiff who just arrived in the next town to seize the house to the farmer Ledig: he shows up unexpectedly and stamps his stamp on everything you have to make it clear that does not belong to you anymore. " Selma guesses this thought to her granddaughter and warns her that she is confusing terms: "That is not love but death. And there is a subtle difference: the kingdom of lovers has managed to return more than one, "he says.
In Leky's novel everything is unthinkable but it becomes natural and magnetic, as in Macondo
In the novel by Mariana Leky there are dead and infatuations. Everything is unthinkable, but it becomes natural and magnetic. As in Macondo.