Crisis, a Novel by Jorge Majfud
Book review by Alberto García-Teresa
Only by separating us from the specific, but paying attention to it, can we aim to understand the totality of our world. The Uruguayan narrator Jorge Majfud joins both scales together in this exceptional novel that represents an excellent sociological and cultural story about the immigrant people in the USA and about the society of the country.
The work is formed by the juxtaposition of fragments from different stories, headed with the date, place (different towns in the USA located close to the southern borders) and the value of the Dow Jones Index. This way the relevance of capitalism becomes important as a condition in people’s lives. At the same time, the multiplicity of cities in which we can find (apparently) the same characters, works as a hint about the wandering life of undocumented immigrants. In this way we obtain a novel with a collective main character in which we have no loss of individuality.
Crisis turns out as a moving book, representing a hard story, full of injustice, pain and abuse of authority. The author explores the fears, dreams and hopes of the immigrants through representative scenes, with a great symbolic and metonymic value, happening to a specific character, even though they could also happen to any other. In fact, the dislocation works well to globalize the event, since it is possible for them to happen in one same place like in any other. On the one hand, it plays with diverse kinds of narrator and focuses on the different spheres involved: migrants, family members, mafias, employers, and local workers. Moreover, in a very skilled manner, it also builds a portrait of the American society, with which he establishes a sentence against a dehumanised, hypocritical and personally impoverishing lifestyle. In this way, he opens several windows to peek out in order to distinguish diverse surroundings of reality. Therefore, through a confluence of narrating voices, it becomes a very interesting book.
On the other hand, Crisis alternates fiction with real facts and press releases. It includes fragments of essays as dissertation of the characters. With this, the author gives fluidity and dynamism to his work, which doesn’t have a scheme, but rises a panoramic view of the present. In this sense, Majfud shows a great success using this kind of construction in his novel, as he fosters his discourse targets and, by itself, the structure adds content in the same direction.
As a result, it is a very rich work, in which tens of characters wander and try to survive in a world governed by a ruthless economic system. This way, the bright denunciation of Majfud appeals to dignity and humanism in a bitter and discouraging story. Crisis becomes a splendid, skilfully built novel that introduces us to numerous ways to observe our times and to find spots where we can incise to change it.
Crisis (novel, Spanish) Editorial Baile del Sol, 146 pp. Tenerife, Spain.