viernes, 6 de noviembre de 2015

Svetlana Alexievich: An atomic Nobel Prize

Fission, Fusion, “Faccion”, Fashion these are the five enunciates that come to mind when confronting the outcome of the deliberations that resulted in the adjudication of the Nobel Prize for Literature this year.
The Prize has been granted to the Byelorussian journalist Svetlana Alexievich who has devoted most of her life to dig into the Soviet soul. In short, she has given voice to the silent minority, or should I say to the bearers of the Communist regime in her native country and the vaster Soviet Union.
This she has done by “transcripting” hundreds of interviews with common people exposed to  the Communist ideology throughout several generations. The only one of her five novels that has been translated to Spanish and English is about the nuclear explosion in Chernobyl (1986): over two hundred pages of horrors described by the protagonists giving the reader a view over a patchwork made out of testimonies and numerous questions about the future, not only theirs but also of the entire human kind.
Svetlana Alexievich is a documentalist, therefore war also plays an important role in her book: the military language used by the political leaders contaminates the atmosphere and she proves her point by comparing the nuclear explosion of Chernobyl to previous war experiences, except for the fact that in a nuclear one the enemy has become lethal yet invisible.
Without intervening much in the narrative, she also poses a comparison of the true unbelievable facts to the ones that only an imaginative science fiction creator could have come out with.
Of course, the fear and adoration of God represent a catch 22 for the survivors considering their ultra-religious backgrounds. People, regardless of their faith, ask themselves, as did German thinker Theodor Adorno, after the Second World War, how is it possible to live and create the same way as ever, after such experiences? Is there not a before and an after Chernobyl? Is it possible that it has just become another show for mediatic and even touristic consumption?
Certainly Svetlana Alexievich applies fission to her narrative as “the act or process of splitting into parts”. Maybe her storyline mimics the nuclear fission that occurred in Chernobyl where radiation spread and where the blues in all shades and meanings overtook all living beings including the earth itself.
Without a doubt, Svetlana Alexievich rubs high temperatures into her stories. The way fusion is described in the dictionary, she also “blends different things into one by heat”. Such high temperature submerges the reader in a time and place where no one wants to be, hence every detail counts as each one belongs to a true life experience, none of which can possibly be left out. Alas, in the reader’s eyes, the sum of the elements under scrutiny becomes itself an atomic bomb that one needs to flee.
A neologism had to be created to address the factual and the fictional under a solo word.  For the questions of what is literature has aroused many eyebrows. Svetlana Alexievich is not the first journalist to have won the Nobel Prize for Literature. Colombian Gabriel García Márquez is maybe the best example. Hence, his prose was elaborate, his plots were threaded and he was sophisticated both in literary and journalistic tasks. Borrowing language from the painters, Alexievich ultra-realistic sketches may be considered as reversed expressions of Soviet realism.
There is hardly any narrative or description intervention on her part. Her Voices of Chernobil (1997) is a series of terrible accounts narrated in first person by dozens of protagonists of the catastrophe. Her permanent use of colloquial language leaves space to deviations and derivations, even though there are shared claims among the interviewed regardless of their social, educational or political level: The terrible lack of information all the victims suffered  by an omnipresent ideological and propagandistic power, as well as their necessity to leave a testimony.
It may be that the reality shows, the testimonials, the quotes, and the unveiled truth are the trend of the Century.  This may also be the tendency of the literature juries: to privilege the factual over the literary skills. Perhaps the pendulum has shifted back to a search for “the truth”. Even when what is being unveiled is more of the same: the evilness of the Human Condition, the need of notions such as love, solidarity and hope over fatality, pessimism or depression.  
Or is it that postmodernism has become an umbrella under which everything goes?

                                                                                                            By Eva Feld
                                                                                                            Loveland, October 201   Resultado de imagen para svetlana alexievich

miércoles, 9 de septiembre de 2015

Native American sweat lodge

Native American sweat lodge

By Eva Feld

Power penetrates our eyes
Pierce our ears
Unwritten words encompassing
Live percussion

A communal heart beat
Overtakes the ritual
As crawling participants gather
Into introspection
Laughter, sobs, howls
Men and beast become unison past

Smoke and ashes cloud
Sweat and tears rain
Accomplices beam
The voice of the Indian thunders

All relatives recreate the Universe

                                                                                    Loveland, OH, September 2015

martes, 28 de julio de 2015


By Eva Feld                                                                                                     

To Jack Lindy 

Invest  months
into disappearance
fast backwards
toward hollow

Non being

We become imaginary
ergo immortal

You have made laughter
to be caresses
You turned fear into comedy

Pulling the strings of hilarity
You have seized the best
                                          of humanity

 (Loveland, Ohio, July 2015)

lunes, 13 de julio de 2015

Ivo Andric: a Nobel Prize in a Stone City

By Eva Feld

Memorials often serve as masquerades. The beauty of an edifice may overtake the visitor to the point of bringing out certain feelings that bury sorrow and enhance pleasure.

It is dangerous to extrapolate examples from history to prove a point. Even past times may be submitted to variable interpretations, especially when dealing with victims of war and/or terrorism. Should the venues and sites of the battles be reconstructed the exact way they were before, or should there be a major intervention to heighten their significance? Should the names of the anonymous heroes be remembered by carving them in marble or by the generic concept of an unknown soldier?

The old city of Warsaw in Poland was indeed reconstructed with its ancient flair:  little shops, cafes and restaurants to give the passerby a way to visit a site before the Second World War. A different approach than what was done in New York after the 9/11 attack, where a magnificent tower/museum/monument has been raised.

These are two emblematic approaches in two different continents, in two cities highly visited by tourists. Hence, less popular destinations are equally facing similar dilemmas. Such is the case of Višegrad in Bosnia Herzegovina, a multiracial, multicultural, multi-religious region formerly part of Yugoslavia, together with Serbia, Croatia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Slovenia and Kosovo. Only in Višegrad, more than 3,000 persons were killed during the last Balkan War, circa twenty years ago.

The bucolic layout of the city, by the Drina River, gives the visitor a false illusion. Only poetry and beauty are conceivable under the spring light of early June, maybe comparable to the impressionist heaven of Bougival near Paris. If it weren’t for the presence of a Mosque and of Muslim peasants, Višegrad would also resemble many Austro-Hungarian small cities, as it had been for centuries part of that Christian Monarchy as well. Višegrad had been also submitted to the Ottoman Empire so the people of Višegrad as in most of Bosnia Herzegovina have a syncretic background not without heavy resentment towards invasions. The most recent ones dating only a couple of decades ago, when fellow Yugoslavians, now calling themselves Serbians and Croatians wanted to part  the region among them. Both neighboring countries, which were permanently at war between each other, agreed, nevertheless, upon attacking Bosnia Herzegovina in the name of Religion (besides, of course, political and economic reasons).

Now that the once united Yugoslavia is divided fairly peacefully in seven independent nations and three major religions, there are still some issues of common pride such as the nobility of Ivo Andric, the one and only Yugoslav Literary Nobel Prize Winner (1961) born in Višegrad Oct 9, 1892, who strongly believed in the Yugoslav unity and in Pan-Slavism.
Andric’s omnipresence in Višegrad has been super enhanced by the ruler’s decision of contracting in 2011, the famous and controversial movie director, architect, artist and actor Emir Kusturica, born Muslim in Sarajevo (the capital of Bosnia Herzegovina) in 1954 and becoming Orthodox Christian en 2005, to conceive a stone city within Višegrad as a Memorial to Ivo Andric. The venue chosen was not other than where the 3,000 Bosniaks (Muslims) were executed.

On the 28th of June of this year (2015)  Andricgrad celebrated its first anniversary under severe criticism by the radical conservationists but at the same time it has become a somewhat surreal space where people gather under a different façade in  a scene conceived between marble and minimalism, hedonist and esthetic parameters and a grimace to Greco/Roman background.

Modernism is also present in the new stone city by displaying a diversity of movies from all over the world in an attractive cinema; by offering gastronomic variety together with their traditional food and, last but not least, by holding a small library where many famous writers can be found translated into Serbian along with The Bridge on the Drina, Andric’s winner novel. In there he describes the lives, destinies and relations of the local inhabitants during circa two centuries of Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian administrations.

Nevertheless, there is no Mosque nor is there Catholicism in Andricgrad, there is only a small orthodox altar. There is no Pan-Slavism nor is there Ecumenism where Ivo Andric’s statue stands,in the center of the stone city.

As in many other countries and memorials, the visitors hardly know anything about the writer or his books; he has become an icon to be found on t-shirts and post-cards, a tourist attraction, a Slav Joyce,  and the city dedicated to him,  a masquerade that intends to bury sorrow and enhance pleasure.

Loveland, July 2015

lunes, 25 de mayo de 2015

The Nobel Prize for cuban writer Leonardo Padura

Eva Feld

Not just anybody is entitled to submit a name to the Swedish Academy. A nomination for the Nobel Prize has to come from a formal institution, such as a university, a previous Nobel Prize winner or a highly recognized syndicate. Therefore my taking a stand for a particular writer may be an act of arrogance. After all who am I but an “unfamous” Venezuelan writer with only five books in my portfolio and a slow reader.

The reasons for which I have decided to proclaim Leonardo Padura not only as a candidate but as the winner of such an honor may scandalize many professors and critics who may think that by doing so I am only asking for spotlights over myself. After all there are many important candidates who are standing in line, some of them for over a decade. The list includes prominent American authors such as Thomas Pynchon or Philipe Roth among others who have been neglected, according to me, to favor many writers, presumably for extra-literary reasons.

Extra-literary reasons?  Yes! For what other reasons may have prevailed to overlook the brilliance in the use of the English language and the description of a society of both Pynchon and Roth displayed in Gravity’s Rainbow or American Pastoral?

Yes it is an individual selection but not an arbitrary one for what is Literature after all if not an essential manifestation of art as its best? It is indeed the art of weaving fiction and reality, prose and rhyme, nouns and adjectives, stories and feelings and ultimately treating the components of human nature as if they were pure chemical ingredients submitted to different conditions in search of possible and impossible reactions.
Developing drama, humor, candor and expertise is a writer’s goal for which he needs to submerge into history and the news as well as in his own experience and those of others. He needs to give life to characters and/or metaphors capable of illuminating the unknown.

These are some of the reasons for which I have chosen Leonardo Padura for this year’s Nobel Prize. He is a Cuban writer and journalist who not only lives in Havana but has never moved from the house where he was born sixty years ago. Furthermore, at least seven generations of the Padura family have lived in that same house. Leonardo claims that he knows everything and everyone in the hood. He also asserts that he needs every sound and every smell of his birthplace in order to be able to write.

He has become the mirror and the antennas of his fellow Cubans both inside the country and in exile because he has given them back not only the information they lack about themselves and their near history but also about the idiosyncrasy that would have presided them should the extremist voices been neutralized instead of enhanced over the years.

Padura has created a fictional detective and a series of his stories but above them, in the last ten years he has written two novels that are non-less than gigantic frescoes of the twentieth Century. The first one, Man Who Loved Dogs, already translated to fifteen languages, is a braid in which three characters who love dogs are brought together to enlighten the facts and emotions that lead a Catalan and communist militant to kill Trotsky in Mexico. It is by meeting an ordinary Cuban while they both walk their dogs on a beach, that the reader becomes familiar with all three dog lovers, Trotsky being the third one.

Through this vertebral spine, Padura is able to weave ideology, deception and expression, using not only the character’s personal stories and circumstances but actual artistic, political, economic and sensorial facts. When it was finally published in Cuba, his readers thanked him for what they had never before heard or read about. And that is the true nature of the word “novel” which derives from “novelty.”

It takes Padura about five years to write a mural-size novel. Two years ago he finished a second one titled Heretics. When asked about the title he answers that it is a term used to designate someone who, having been a strong believer, retracts in order to free himself. He is an advocate of freedom. He is against extremism, fanaticism, intemperance and that is probably why he is permanently being attacked by radical Cubans of both sides.

Through his newest novel he describes the Cubans in their diversity but his neuralgic research has to do with an exploration of how to attain and deal with free will: Either concerning the Jews in the Netherlands in the XVII Century or the personal choices of his contemporary characters.

Once again, Padura paints a fresco about the human nature. To accomplish that he even takes us to Rembrandt’s studio and brings us so close to him that we can smell his bad breath due to his rotten teeth. At the same time we can also smell the very cheap rum consumed by middle class Cubans or the fresh flesh and blood of disappointed youngsters in Havana who by cutting themselves express their desire of freedom.

Yes! Freedom is the cue word in Padura’s complex and beautifully written novels. And yes, he deserves the Nobel Prize both for literary reasons and political causes if it pleases the Academy.

Loveland OH, May 2015 

martes, 28 de abril de 2015


One God-deceiving man
perceives the spectrum
Is it the Holy Ghost
Disguised                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          in green neutrons?

Fearless he becomes himself:
A flash of Atomic electrons
A quantic solution

One God-fearing man
seizes his own image
Is he a mirror veiled by all senses?
or mere reflection of his credence?

Frightened, the believer becomes else:
A loud advocacy of an iron key dogma
He now owns a hypnotic cue
                                                          By Eva Feld ( Loveland, Ohio) April 2015 

jueves, 8 de enero de 2015



Freedom and solitude
are Siamese siblings
Life is surgery

Success, separation

Independence and responsibility
are bloodily related
No transfusion stops an offspring
from an overdose of liberty

Loneliness and regret
playfully fool old agers
like daughters and sons
they never cease misleading

By Eva Feld
Loveland, Ohio

January 2015