One hundred years of solitude continues

Updated: 2016-04-11 08:31

By OP Rana(China Daily)

  Print Mail Large Medium  Small 分享按钮 0

He would have been just a month over 89 today. But he died about two years ago, leaving the world of literature poorer. True, he hadn't written anything in the last 10 years of his life, but so long as he was alive we could expect another masterpiece at any time.

Although his first book (a novella) took shape more than six decades ago, he had to wait about a dozen years before seeing his literary fortunes finally smile. Along with the literary giant Jorge Luis Borges and the Mexican magician Juan Rulfo, he changed the landscape of Latin American, nay world, literature.

More than a decade after his path-breaking novel, he was honored with the highest literary prize in the world. And by the time he walked up to receive it, he was prepared to tell his and Latin America's story in yet another novel way.

He began his acceptance speech by citing Florentine navigator Antonio Pigafetta, "who went with Magellan on his first voyage around the world" and wrote a "strictly accurate account" of his "passage through our southern lands of America" that "nonetheless resembles a venture into fantasy". He said Pigafetta had recorded seeing "hogs with navels on their haunches, clawless birds whose hens laid eggs on the backs of their mates, and others still, resembling tongueless pelicans, with beaks like spoons". He added that Pigafetta "wrote of having seen a misbegotten creature with the head and ears of a mule, a camel's body, the legs of a deer and the whinny of a horse".

The ignorance of the elites of the enlightened world, which is no longer limited to Europe and ironically also includes the northern part of the New World, seems to persist. Pigafetta, to be honest, cannot be faulted for not recognizing the "strange, exotic, misbegotten" animals and birds he saw in Latin America, for he had not even heard about, let alone seen, any of them before setting foot in the New World.

But today, when no land is left uncharted, how can anyone, European and American leaders included, plead ignorance? How can we explain the pervading ignorance about China in these postmodern times? Or how can we pretend to be ignorant of the reality that is the Middle East, especially because the region that as we see it now is the making of the West?

Why do we pretend the refugee crisis in Europe was not anticipated? What else did we expect from the invasion of Iraq and interventions in Libya and Syria? Certainly not democratic societies.

The refugees in Europe, as the wizard of magic realism said, are seeking a "new utopia of life, where no one will be able to decide for others how they die, where love will prove true and happiness be possible, and where races condemned to one hundred years of solitude will have, at last and forever, a second opportunity on earth".

When will the cries of children, wails of helpless women and silent pains of desperate men be heard?