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Thread poster: Roomy Naqvy

Roomy Naqvy  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:46
English to Hindi
+ ...
Jun 11, 2001

Talking of literary books read recently, I read one about two months ago, The President by Miguel Angel Asturias. I read Marquez, that renowned teller of Macondo, first in M.A. in 1992, purely out of sheer chance and interest. One Hundred Years of Solitude and Chronicle of a Death Foretold pleased me immensely. That led to my reading more about the fiction that emanated from that magic land.

Around 1992 or 1993, I had heard of Asturias but never found him in English translation till recently when I asked someone to send me some books from Amazon as payment for translation instead of money.

The most interesting thing about The President is that it is simply unlike all political, historical novels I have ever read. I have admired Orwell in the past for 1984 and Animal Farm for telling us that \"All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.\" I have read Rushdie. Some other novels which could be classified as \'political/historical novels\' in this sense.

There is satire in Rushdie and also in Orwell, a genre that I somewhat cannot come to terms with. Satire, I feel, denigrates, while wit uplifts. This novel by Asturias does not use satire in the conventional sense. There is total control of the President over everyone. Even Miguel Angel Face, the President\'s confidante, can not escape.

The way the novel begins is fascinating. There is a beggar. He is called Zany and everyone teases him and gives him hell. He is very poor, lives in rags and is hurt by others. He does not even get to sleep properly at nights. One day, he hadn\'t slept for ages and was tired. When someone uttered the word \'Mother\' to him in a jeering fashion, he woke up suddenly. A policeman, I think, comes and jeers at him. Suddenly, Zany gets up, bites him on the neck, kicks him in the front. The other fellow dies. Zany runs.

There is investigation and an effort is made to prove that one of the President\'s rivals killed the victim and that Zany did not even exist.

Now, this is how the novel begins and I call it extremely masterly that Asturias, while talking of someone as high as the President, with total power can also talk about the lowliest of the low. It is wonderful how the president could control everything.

A truly terrifying novel. Also a testimony to the times in which we have lived in this century.

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Henry Dotterer
Local time: 06:16
Jun 11, 2001

I am halfway through the English translation of Gabriel Garcia Marquez\'s 100 Years of Solitude, done by Gregory Rabassa.

What has struck me so far about the book, apart from the occasional fantastical interlude, is the great number of experiences packed into a relatively effortless narrative.

The book was a gift from a Colombian friend who told me that in reading the book, I just might \"fall in love with the Colombian people.\"

I like it so far...but can an American without much of the cultural context truly appreciate this book?

On the question of whether the translation offers the same impact as the original, I have had mixed reports.

It would be great to hear from someone who has read the book in both Spanish and English. Was the experience different?

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Henry Dotterer
Local time: 06:16
Jun 11, 2001


I asked someone to send me some books from Amazon as payment for translation instead of money.

That\'s a novel solution to the problem of high fees on small international wire transfers!

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