- Infancia e historia: Actos de la memoria en Dios tenía miedo de Vanessa Núñez Handal y Mañana nunca lo hablamos de Eduardo Halfon
- Revista de Estudios Hispánicos
- Washington University in St. Louis
- Tomo 51, Número 3, Octubre 2017
- pp. 595-620
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- Additional Information
This essay studies the traumatic encounter between childhood and History in Vanessa Núñez Handal's Dios tenía miedo (El Salvador, 2011) and Eduardo Halfon's Mañana nunca lo hablamos (Guatemala, 2011), by exploring the relationship between memory and history as a bi-directional corrective exchange. Both texts represent narratives produced by authors who were born between the 1960s and 1980s and grew up during some of the most radical decades of 20th-century Latin American history. As opposed to the children of parents disappeared by the terror of the State—who narrate from a point of irretrievable loss—, authors like Núñez Handal and Halfon turn to writing in order to exorcise what Gabriele Schwab calls "unprocessed toxic knowledge" and/or "unwitting complicity" (28, 34). As adults, they are driven back to the past by inquisitiveness, anxiety, guilt, shame, or the pain produced by their latent affective memories and the silence surrounding them. Fusing together autobiographical elements, memory, history, and invention, they create a fictional fabric, which allows them to take a different look at the past in order to understand it and themselves. This questioning of the past that returns and haunts is also a questioning of a subject and a subjectivity in the present. Memory work in these texts is a vehicle for reflection on History, a way of taking a position regarding the authors' social class, and a mode of approaching the past as class experience.