Días amarillos


Días amarillos
Javier Payeras
2009, Magna Terra Editores
95 pages

IN HIS short novel Días amarillos (“Yellow days”), Javier Payeras describes the violence of a city once ravaged by armed conflict and its subsequent hangover. A journalist, who is going through a divorce, he questions his own integrity as he works for one of those tabloids that makes a huge profit out of selling graphic snapshots of victims of crime to an illiterate public. After all, in Guatemala there is also a “respectable” press that does not get rich through desperation but focuses its efforts on demonstrating that the country has outstanding citizens, mainly consultants, that respects the norms of political correctness, and debates openly the challenges facing the nation. As the main character reflects on his own life he writes a diary, and in his observations he discovers that violence, misery and loneliness are a way of life in Guatemala City. Although his reports reflect a deep sarcasm and contempt for the daily dismemberments, stabbings, freak births or activities of drag queens, the only way he can preserve his sense of humanity is through his imagination. And, for the main character, writing is not the start of something big – what the majority of writers dream about – but mainly a way to kill time. Continuing in the mode established by Ruido de fondo (“Background noise”, 2003), Payeras’ prose has intentionally an almost stagnant and depressive mood that aims to convey the way a residual feeling of despair afflicts his country. Has Guatemala any prospects? Will it ever get anywhere? Without entering into an obvious rant, Payeras questions why his country is still sunken in an almost feudal condition after 21 centuries have transpired elsewhere. A writer, conceptual artist and poet, in 1998 Payeras joined the Casa Bizarra movement comprising young artists of the post-conflict generation. He is director of the Contemporary Art Foundation and co-ordinated the Octubre Azul Festival in 2000. His other books are La ausencia es 1/4 vacío (“Absence is an empty room”), La hora de la rabia (“Time of rage”) and Soledadbrother. He has also made experimental books and publications such as Terrorismo moral y ético (“Moral and ethical terrorism”, 1997), 9mm Automatic, Colloquia and El lenguaje es la superficie de otro lenguaje (“Language is the surface of another language”). – GJ

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