Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Horacio Castellanos Moya

"The return flight took off without me. I preferred uncertainty to the same old nightmare".
Horacio Castellanos Moya, now living in the USA, has become familiar to the English speaking world of late after the English translation of his 8th novel called Senselessness, Insentasez in Spanish. Born in Honduras, he started living in El Salvador which he left for Canada. Before that he witnessed many civil convulsions in Central America which has to a great extent informed his personal and other experiences.

He resides in Pittsburgh as writer in residence, part of the asylum for writers project which was initiated by the literary community for writers facing persecution. "An international organization, Cities of Asylum provide sanctuary to writers exiled under threat of death, imprisonment, or persecution in their native countries. In Pittsburgh--just one of three Asylum cities in the US--that safe harbor is a home-of-their-own on Sampsonia Way in Pittsburgh’s North Side".

is the only novel translated into English. He wrote a novel called El asco as a tribute to Thomas Bernhard, whose influences are evident in his style. It seems that New Directions have done a great favour indeed by publishing him, for not reading him is more horrible than gouging one's eyes out.( I am not exaggerating) He is a stylist, a master of the kind of fiction that makes you feel unholy and unmanly, weaving you in webs of melancholy and as Bolano says:
"Moya's vertices are horror, corruption, an an ordinariness that trembles on every single page that makes the reader tremble as well. He writes as if he lives in the depths of the many volcanoes in his country. This sentence sounds like magic realism.Nevertheless, there is nothing magical about his books except perhaps his will to style. His sharp humour, not unlike a time bomb threatens the fragile instability of imbeciles who, when they read his books, have an uncontrollable desire to hang the author in the town square. I can't think of any higher honor for a writer".

As the best novel of the year, Senselessness is miles apart from any novel I have read recently. He has been called the voice of Central America but aside that, he is one of those writers that make you jump and one of those without which life is suddenly unbearable. Another of his novel' is being translated into English. A good link to some of his quotes here. An interview with the author that I found here.

I will write a post on Senselessness soon and you can find numerous reviews everywhere on the Internet. I am also posting an extract from Senselessness.


Alok said...

"more horrible than gouging one's eyes out"...

whoa.. let me see if my library or the nearest book store has it!

"makes you feel unholy and unmanly"...this also got me intrigued...and that phrase "will to style," that's a marvelous idea too!

Anonymous said...

The book is more than a tribute and the novel exhibits its influence in more than its style. You haven't got a fucking clue.

Kubla Khan said...

Yes, Alok.....i could not recommend it more.

and re Anonymous....as Bolano says, this one is not for imbeciles.