It Would Be Night in Caracas by Karina Sainz Borgo and Elizabeth Bryer (translator)
|It Would Be Night in Caracas by Karina Sainz Borgo and Elizabeth Bryer (translator)|
|Category: Literary Fiction|
|Reviewer: Alex Merrick|
|Summary: Borgo thrusts into the limelight the depravity and hopelessness that exists in Venezuela now. The main character Adelaida is thrust into this uncaring world after the death of her mother and must navigate her way free from the insanity that she calls home.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 240||Date: October 2019|
It Would Be Night in Caracas illuminates the everyday horrors of modern day Venezuela. It begins with the death of Adelaida Falcon's mother and chronicles Adelaida's coming to terms with her new solitude in this world and her attempts to escape it. Danger stalks the shadows and, in a society where the establishment is crumbling, who can you turn to?
Some episodes and characters in this novel are inspired by real events. The reader is told this at the end of the novel. Although usually prefacing the narrative, this book end illuminates what came before. It becomes a semi-autofiction work in retrospect. The reader is left thinking which events and characters are based in reality. It therefore darkens the story; which episodes in this nightmarish world are true? It adds a layer of gritty realism to a story that, at times, descends into absurd levels of nihilism.
Some of the rioters and gangsters Adelaida has to deal with are incredibly depraved. Returning to her house after it is invaded by gangsters Borgo writes, There was a strong stench of shit, and half the furniture was gone… she shit wherever she pleased. The home I'd grown up in had been turned into a filthy pit. The depravity seen in her own home is disgusting and borders on absurd. However, Borgo uses this absurdity to illustrate to the reader the depths of despair her country has fallen into. Borgo utilises a range of different scenes to highlight the lawless and warped life of Venezuelans. This ranges from a gang drooling over a prepubescent girl dancing provocatively on top of a casket to a dead woman being hurled out a window and ignored by passers-by.
The reality is that the situation in Venezuela is dire. This is in part due to an 'economic war' declared by Hugo Chavez, the former President of Venezuela, and continuing into Nicolas Maduro's reign. Its currency is virtually worthless, with Borgo writing, worthless skyscrapers, that's what our national currency has become: a tall tale. The metaphoric use of tall tale highlights the falsity of the Bolivar (Venezuela's currency). Currency only works if the populace believes it to have value, a tall tale signifies that it has become unbelievable and, as such, is worthless.
There are escalating food and supplies shortages made worse by Maduro's government blocking aid sent over from Colombia. The crime and mortality rates have increased with Caracas now the second most dangerous city in the world. It has 111.19 murders per 100,000 people. All these factors are at play in It Would Be Night in Caracas. The shortages seem to include words. Sentences are written economically with each word having meaning and seeming to be needed. In a world filled with scarcity, everything must be acquired and savoured including words. This idea of cherishing everything comes back when Borgo describes how Adelaida would methodically eat every morsel of flesh off a stone plum, I sucked and nibbled them right down to the pit, where there was always a little flesh attached. Eating a stone plum was an act of perseverance. This doggedness blends into every waking moment of their life. Adelaida perseveres through horrific circumstances until she is free.
The theme of freedom and escape is sited throughout the novel. Venezuela has seen mass emigration from the country. New York Times reported, at the end of 2018, that more than 2.3 million Venezuelans have fled the country. It must seem like a dream to be able to escape the impoverished conditions that ensnare most of the populace. Borgo shows this untenable dream with a young Adelaida talking about an Italian immigrant, he lives in two places at once, Mama. His family lives there and he lives here. Adelaida sees an immigrant as a beautiful thing and as someone who has two homes, one with his family and one with his self. Borgo juxtaposes this innocent view of immigration with the state of affairs in Venezuela today. Venezuelan immigrants are leaving their home for places unknown. They are leaving everything they have ever known to start afresh. Borgo titles this novel as It Would Be Night in Caracas. It may be night there now but a new dawn must surely follow and with it a possibility to start anew.
Thanks go to the publisher for supplying this book.
If you enjoyed It Would Be Night in Caracas and want to read more about Venezuela and Latin America in general then you might enjoy Wild Coast: Travels on South America's Untamed Edge by John Gimlette.
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