This article applies recent trauma and memory theory to Valeria Cerezo’s acclaimed literary fiction. Her novel of the Guatemalan civil war, La flor oscura (2017), and short story collection, La muerte de Darling (2016), probe collective and individual experiences of trauma through depictions of physical and psychological pain and bodily response. Her work explores the traumatic “crisis of life” (Caruth) suffered by ordinary Guatemalans, rather than those who wield power or celebrity, and draws on the painful experiences of previous generations to forge connections beyond familial structures with an extended social family that confronts lingering war trauma through the re-embodiment and repetition of inherited memories. Cerezo’s fiction emphasizes survival rather than what has been survived, and affirms literature’s value in comprehending the past and navigating the present. As coherent stories (Hunt) that “organize pain” (Kaplan), La flor oscura and La muerte de Darling offer a powerful literary contribution to a society still working through its traumatic history. Valeria Cerezo is an emerging and prolific talent whose work confronts the consequences of Guatemala’s brutal past upon national identity and recognizes the human body as a site of violence, betrayal, and isolation, but also, ultimately, as the site of potential redemption.


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pp. 220-243
Launched on MUSE
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