Guest Post: Karixia Ortiz Serrano on Barataria by Juan López Bauzá

Please give all a warm welcome to my good friend Karixia, who came to Books & Reviews to talk about the latest literary sensation on her native Puerto Rico: the novel Barataria by Juan López Bauza. I talked to her some time ago about writing this piece for the blog after the wonderful Diversify Your Shelves project. Could you name a Puerto Rican author? I couldn’t before I met her, but Karixia introduced me to this amazing postmodern novel that has captivated her native country:

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The author does not deny it, he reconfirms it*. His novel is based on the great literature piece  ‘Don Quixote de la Mancha’. The Puerto Rican author Juan López Bauzá delights us with this piece that takes us to a Puerto Rico of timeless stories but, above all, as real as life itself. The stories lead the reader to experience from disgust and revulsion for the constant and inevitably crude and painful violence of any nature, to the most profound laughter provoked by the self-reflection of the surrealist experience in the Puerto Rican daily life. In the two volumes of Barataria, the stories and adventures of the two main characters are always intertwined: the veteran, amateur archaeologist and faithful believer of Puerto Rico state 51, Chiquitín Campala; and his travel companion, Margaro Velásquez, who rescues the Puerto Rican popular proverb with particularity. Both characters lead us to explore the contemporary reality of Puerto Rico, where everything and nothing happens at the same time. We walk through an island where the safest thing is the political, social and cultural instability that leads everything to a drift.

However, Barataria invites us to ponder the various discourses of nationalism, politics, culture, and society… it is an exposition of the island without condition. Against the backdrop of the warm south of the island, both characters, mounted on their bicycle “Anacaona,” make us question the origins of the discourses that make up a place and its inhabitants: from the indigenous, native, and origin notions of Puerto Rico, to the most current debates on the future of the island. It is certain that not everything is solved, and that everyone, within their madness or sanity, has a particular way of living, defending and seeing the life that develops in a certain time, place and space.

In my opinion, Barataria, by Juan López Bauzá, becomes an essential book that critically revisits our Puerto Rican history, culture, politics, and society, so as to extrapolate to other realities worldwide. It also invites us to act upon the imagery that portrays as a mirror we cannot stop looking at.

·      * El Nuevo Día, 31 de julio de 2013 http://www.elnuevodia.com/Xstatic/endi/template/imprimir.aspx?id=1562435&t=3

** “Barataria” is nominated for the Real Academia Española Award for Creation in 2014.

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