Alicia Kozameh’s most recent novel, Eni Furtado no ha dejado de correr (2013, to be released in English in 2014 with the title Eni Furtado Has Never Stopped Running), narrates an Argentine exile’s frantic search to locate her childhood friend, Eni, as well as the thorny nature of their eventual reunion. Ironically, what compels Alcira, the author’s thinly veiled alter ego, to undertake this desperate quest after forty years of separation is the alarming discovery that her father sexually abused Eni when the girl was just ten years old. The novel explores the limits of friendship, various forms of loss, long-term effects of child molestation, abusive relations within familial contexts and the nature of traumatic memory—all set in the oppressive wake of the last military regime.
However, to describe this complex text merely at the level of narrative plot is to commit a grave injustice. Kozameh writes with a poetically kaleidoscopic style, made possible by non-chronological storytelling in a relentless series of vignettes. [End Page 97] This novelistic structure features constant shifts in narrative voice and results in a highly fractured tale told from multiple perspectives. As such, the story unfolds as much more than dialogue and exchange between two former childhood friends. For example, the innovative format provides a mechanism for juxtaposing the voices of perpetrator, victim and involuntary witness in a crescendo of repeated tellings of the climactic molestation scene. In similar fashion, the eventual severing of ties by Eni, who reaches an impasse and refuses to further recount the traumatic event or to maintain contact with Alcira, leads to a tense, abrupt and rather inconclusive denouement. The employment of discordant narrative voices does not grant narrative authority to any one of the characters; instead, the fragmentary nature of the poetic text can be understood to reflect the haunting impact of a traumatic event experienced but not fully understood.
Nor should Eni Furtado no ha dejado de correr be considered in isolation. In many ways, this novel stands as a sustained post-script or as a companion piece to Patas de avestruz (1988, translated by David E. Davis as Ostrich Legs, 2013). A unique coming-of-age story, Patas chronicles the challenges Alcira faces as a child growing up with a severely disabled older sister in an oppressive household; at the same time, the fictionalized memoir highlights the child’s proclivities for language manipulation, compulsive reflection and creative self-expression. Eni Furtado, in turn, looks back and reflects upon that which remained unknown—if not altogether unknowable—at the time. Both can be interpreted as indirectly representing Argentina’s so-called guerra sucia or dirty war.
In fact, as with most of Kozameh’s literary production, political repression and the legacy of Argentina’s last dictatorship maintain a significant presence throughout the narrative. Kozameh’s first published novel, the semi-autobiographical and highly metafictional Pasos bajo el agua (1987), fictionalizes political imprisonment while 259 Saltos, Uno inmortal (2001) depicts personal experiences as a political exile. Mano en vuelo (2009), a free-verse extended poem, denounces political violence in a more abstract and lyrical fashion. In short, Kozameh’s oeuvre consistently and increasingly favors oblique rather than direct testimony. With Eni Furtado no ha dejado de correr, readers will once again discover familiar themes of power and domination, the compulsive need to understand and represent traumatic events, and the emotional distress of bearing witness. In keeping with the companion novel Patas de avestruz, this work again offers a metaphorical representation of state oppression by narrating repression and violence in the childhood home.
What remains unique to Eni Furtado, is that in addition to scattered references to the torture and disappearances carried about by the Argentine military—another situation that Eni describes as lived through but not fully grasped—investigating the sexual abuse of a defenseless young girl serves to mirror the difficult process [End Page 98] of understanding and coming to terms with the repressive dynamics of state terrorism. Thus, while this latest novel can certainly stand alone, those familiar with Alicia Kozameh...