Lima nights de Arana
La literatura norteamericana tiene otra representante peruana de frontera, más allá del exitoso Daniel Alarcón: Marie Arana, quien nació en Perú y a los 9 años viajó a los EEUU (y luego periplos mayores que incluyen Hong Kong). En el 2001 fue finalista del National Book Award con American Chica: Two Worlds, One Childhood. En el 2006 publicó una novela satírica titulada Cellophane en Dial Press, y este año apareció en la misma editorial su nueva novela Lima nights que ha sido reseñada este fin de semana en NY Times.
“I am always surprised to learn that people do not live with memories of fragrance as I do,” Marie Arana wrote in “American Chica,” her gloriously redolent memoir of growing up as the daughter of a Peruvian father and an American mother. If books came with perfumed-page inserts, Arana’s new novel, “Lima Nights,” would smell of bougainvillea and lemons, with an acrid hint of Molotov cocktails and a potent underpinning of sausages and apples. These last two infuse the combustible rapport of its two Peruvian lovers, Carlos Bluhm and Juana Maria Fernandez. True to their identifying aromas, Carlos and Maria are oddly compatible, despite having been yanked together from far-flung sectors of Lima: he a middle-aged camera importer with a refined (if downwardly mobile) European pedigree, residing with his wife and two sons in the tony neighborhood of San Isidro; she a 15-year-old indigenous-Indian scrapper from the stifling maze of metal-roof huts that is the Lurigancho ghetto. Doom-laden, cross-class romance might strike admirers of Arana’s epic first novel, “Cellophane,” as a low reach. Part historical fiction, part magic realism and part bodice-ripper, “Cellophane” cascaded playfully with stories atop stories, like the brimming emanations of a mute fabulist who had suddenly been granted the gift of speech. By comparison, the crisp but earnestly single-minded “Lima Nights” comes off as a genre exercise by an artist with a hectoring sense of mission. (...) Such fantasies of undying fraternal camaraderie, however improbable, are less problematic than the novel’s dialogue, which often seems cribbed from Maria’s telenovelas. “I’m not on a dangerous road, headed for perdition. I’m there already,” she declares to Bluhm, who later unleashes the full potential of his imperial German stripes by barking at a maid: “Ein, zwei, drei! We are orderly, precise people. We don’t believe in that jungle claptrap. And we don’t put up with domestics who don’t understand their place in a house. Arana’s characters are much more memorable, finally, for the fragrances that define them than for anything they say. Where readers might have eagerly inhaled great gusts of “Cellophane,” they’ll most likely sniff through “Lima Nights” in search of elusive surprise.