In Rafael Gumucio’s “Los relantes pobres” (The Poor Relatives), the upper-class Chilean family writes about itself

In Rafael Gumucio’s “Los relantes pobres” (The Poor Relatives), the upper-class Chilean family writes about itself
In Rafael Gumucio’s “Los relantes pobres” (The Poor Relatives), the upper-class Chilean family writes about itself

The protagonists of the latest novel by the Chilean writer are the cousins hippies and the artist uncle, his contradictions and ways of loving himself

Eleven siblings message each other through a family chat following a scandalous news story: His father has incestuous relations in the nursing home where he resides.. Between reproaches to the past, childhood memories brought to the surface in conversation and contributions that never receive unanimous approval; The brothers debate the future of their familyWith a funny and dramatic tone when the story requires it, Rafael Gumucio consolidates his conception of Chile as a large family that revels in indecent affections, a thought that he has already worked on in previous novels.

For Barría Grande we are the lost paradise, the artist father, the international cousins, the weird cousins, the free cousins, the hippies of the family. The poor relatives who, deep down, are richer, or rather, more sophisticated.

The poor relatives opens the doors of privacy to the Chilean upper classes. Its protagonists are the descendants of the “good boy” who became an artist, who had success and lost it. The great patriarch of “Los del Río” was a sculptor and tried to instill his artistic concerns in his children; but he did not pay them enough attention either and each one directed his life as he could. Raimundo is the engineer who is far from the point of view of his brothers; Ruben, in line with his father’s lack of sanity, is ready to travel throughout Latin America on foot; Efraín, the delinquent who everyone distrusts but is his father’s favorite; Elianita, who defends him… Gumucio creates a beautiful narrative game: everyone has a voice, everyone defines their character, their affinities and disagreements.

In The poor relatives The figure of the writer disappears among the free expression of the characterswho seem to come to life to speak and think, each in their own way and with their own quirks. With a language that exalts the Chilean imagination, the inexplicable dynamics that operate in each family come to light. “Those from the river” hate and love each other, just as they love and hate their father. The condition of being children and brothers is irrevocable for them.As children, they were forced to take care of each other, feed each other and have fun when their father, carried away by his artistic projects, was not willing to do so. As adults, they recall and blame each other for their experiences when making a vital decision: how to deal with an elderly father who, in addition to showing affection for his also elderly sister, has been a contradictory figure at every moment of their lives.

The Poor Relatives, the latest novel by Rafael Gumucio ı Source: Alicia Fernández de Arcaya

Perhaps the best thing about the book is the combination of registers that enriches a unique reading. Although the messages compose the most original way of narrating the family plot, the book is energized by the voice of Emilia. Daughter of Raimundo, she presents herself as a university student who, in the last year of her law degree, watches his father deal with his grandfather’s senile state.

Far from being the protagonist of the story, she completes it with an objective point of view of the eccentricities of her relatives. From her youth and her own madness, Emilia is a friend of the reader; she recognizes the authority that the grandfather instills in all of them, but also the admiration they feel for him. She explains to us all the noise that fits in the silences that characterize the meetings between her father and her uncles, and emphasizes the harshness of the traumas that are repeated in one and another generation of “Those from the river”. Luckily, she seems to be the brave one who will manage to escape from a family cursed by abandonment.

Her aunt Julia is the one who connects the present problems that occupy the book with the past. In the form of small projects carried out for her writing workshops, she narrates her childhood and that of her siblings, achieving that The novel never ceases to surprise the reader at any timeRafael Gumicio gives Julia the power to explain the maternal figure of the family unit. With grace and ease, she narrates the abandonment of her mother, the chaos that this unleashed and some other fables from her childhood.

First and foremost, and above all, the father’s children. That should be enough for us to be happy, I think..”

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