Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Literature is Hell


I have found my Holy Grail and it is: Kalpa Imperial: The Greatest Empire That Never Was by Angelica Gorodischer (translated by Ursula K. Le Guin).

The book description states:

Kalpa Imperial is the first of Argentinean writer Angélica Gorodischer's nineteen award-winning books to be translated into English. In eleven chapters, Kalpa Imperial's multiple storytellers relate the story of a fabled nameless empire which has risen and fallen innumerable times. Fairy tales, oral histories and political commentaries are all woven tapestry-style into Kalpa Imperial: beggars become emperors, democracies become dictatorships, and history becomes legends and stories. But Kalpa Imperial is much more than a simple political allegory or fable. It is also a celebration of the power of storytelling.

My favorite bookstore, Booktopia in Libis, shipped in this book with a load of others last week. Robert, one of the store managers, knew of my penchant for SFF stuff so he immediately reserved this for me and texted me about the new stuff. Lo and behold, upon seeing it last Sunday at the shop, I almost fell on knees in reverence and holy ecstasy.

As this was not enough, a month back, they got a copy of Michael Cisco's The San Veneficio Canon: The Divinity Student/The Golem and Robert gave me first dibs on it. This was also the shop where I got Conjunctions: 39, The New Wave Fabulists, The Thackery T. Lambshead Pocket Guide to Eccentric and Discredited Diseases and Leviathan Three-- all small press books. For a country that mostly has US published books on its store bookshelves, I swear, I love this shop. But I digress.

Why am I so excited about this book? Well, for one thing, this book is considered a masterpiece in Argentina and yet is obviously a work of speculative fiction or fantastical fiction. Mind, I did not say it was that well-known Latin American field of literature, magical realism, as popularized by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

As it is, I'm not exactly hopeful about the state of the Philippine literature and how it's stuck in a time warp. Looking at this book and seeing how Gorodischer managed to write a book by re-imagining the history of her own country with the end result of re-energizing Argentinean literature, I feel like I can create new worlds touched by the soul of my country.

Ah, I can always dream...

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