Chile has just been battered by one of the most powerful earthquakes the world has seen in a century.
The death toll is already above 200 and, I am quite confident, will only climb upward from there.
I have never been to the country, but would love to go there.
Here are some books I have read about this suffering nation:
My Invented Country, by Isabel Allende. The niece of the Chile’s assassinated president, Salvador Allende, Isabel is one of Chile’s most famous novelists of recent decades. In this book she writes about the country where she spent much of her childhood and from which she left shortly after her uncle’s murder.
They Used to Call us Witches, by Julie Shayne. This academic text examines the community of left-wing Chilean exiles in Vancouver. The title draws its name from a magazine they produced. The prose can be a bit jargon-laden, and Shayne’s admiration for the women shines through her writing. She writes approvingly about the role emotion played for these women as they work unceasingly to improve conditions in their homeland. Unfortunately, they now will have much more to do.
Tapestries of Hope, by Marjorie Agosin. The incredibly prolific Agosin writes here about the arpilleristas, those women who defied the Pinochet regime and wove tapestries that named their loved ones who had been “disappeared.” Agosin showed her own mettle with this project, as she smuggled out the tapestries over a number of years.
The Condor Years, by John Dinges. Columbia University journalism professor Dinges exposes Operation Condor, an antiterrorist alliance in the 70s and 80s that involved the Pinochet government and others carrying out, with U.S. complicity, brutal action in Latin America, Italy and even the United States. An outstanding work of investigative journalism that draws heavily on declassified documents.
100 Love Sonnets, by Pablo Neruda. Chile’s poet laureate shows his versatility in expressing his feelings of love in this moving collection that includes the following poem Dunreith and I included as part of our first two wedding ceremonies:
Sonnet XVII (100 Love Sonnets, 1960)
I don’t love you as if you were the salt-rose, topaz
or arrow of carnations that propagate fire:
I love you as certain dark things are loved,
secretly, between the shadow and the soul.
I love you as the plant that doesn’t bloom and carries
hidden within itself the light of those flowers,
and thanks to your love, darkly in my body
lives the dense fragrance that rises from the earth.
I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where,
I love you simply, without problems or pride:
I love you in this way because I don’t know any other way of loving
but this, in which there is no I or you,
so intimate that your hand upon my chest is my hand,
so intimate that when I fall asleep it is your eyes that close.
The people of Chile will need love, poetry and lots of helps from exiles and the international community during the upcoming weeks and months.
We are thinking of them during this time.