Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Sunday, February 17, 2013

"In the Family" by Maria Elena Illano- Project 196 Cuba

"In the Family" by Maria Elena Illano  (1966, 4 pages)

Project 196
196 Countries, 196 Stories

27 of 196

Project 196 is my attempt to read and post on a short story by an author from each of the 196 countries of the world.  So far I have posted on stories from 24 countries.  I am discovering a lot of new to me writers, including some I for sure want to read more of, and learning more about the short story as a factor in differing literary cultures.

Yesterday and again this morning I read an interesting short story by a Cuban writer, Maria Elena Illano (1936).

María Elena Llano
Journalist by Trade Born in Cuba, María Elena Llano is a journalist who has won many awards for her writing. Among her award-winning works are stories that she has written for both radio and television shows. Llano has been recognized for the humor she interjects into some of her journalism, which she practices in the cultural department of a news agency in Havana called the Latin Press.

Range of Writing Llano writes in Spanish, but her stories have been translated into several other languages, including English. They occasionally appear in anthologies with stories by other Hispanic authors. In 1966, she published her first collection of short stories, La reja (The Plowshare). Since then Llano has written a second book of stories and a collection of poems. She also writes scripts for stage plays and art reviews. 

"In the Family" is in the tradition of Magic Realism, as are several of the other Latin American short stories I have read for Project 196.   The story turns on one idea.   That deceased members of the family reside in a large mirror in the main room of the house.   The family members accept this as normal and it becomes part of their routine.   One day cousin Clara comes.   She is the dominant member of the family because she has been to dental school, even though she does not practice.   She decides the mirror should be moved into the dining room so the living and the dead can eat together.   Clara asks a woman in the mirror to pass her a salad, it has a strange kind of gray look but Clara eats it and the next day she is dead and in the mirror.  The family soon shrugs this off and life goes on.

I suppose if you wanted to you could turn this into a political commentary on the disappearance of large segments of the Cuban population due to immigration or political killings.   I really think it is just a work to read and enjoy.

Mel u

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