La Voz de Galicia – March 27, 2020 →

Cristina PatoNow that our lives are on hold, I picked up the book and didn’t put it down until I finished it. I suppose the story fascinated me because it talked about life through three kinds of emigrants and also because of the magic way in which it was narrated. The life of Virtudes, the protagonist, was not so different from the lives of the women in my family; and the author, Xesús Fraga, was able to synthesize stories of emigration through the woman who decides to emigrate, the one who does not decide it but who emigrates nonetheless, and the one who has been born an emigrant without knowing it. So it intertwines the realities that are already invisible with those that are more present than ever.

In one of the most beautiful passages in the book, the author reflects on the idea of «ex-futures,» that concept of Unamuno’s that seems to reflect us all: «I have always been troubled by the problem of what I would call my ‘ex-future selves,’ the ones I could have been and was not, the possibilities that I have been leaving by the wayside of life.» In the case of Virtudes (e misterios), Fraga addresses this idea by trying to answer the questions that the children of emigrants ask ourselves constantly, imagining how it would be that other life where our parents or grandparents remain emigrants and our existence develops in another reality quite different from ours.

But in these times of pandemic, I can’t stop thinking about the «ex-future» of normalcy. In the reality that could now have been, where I would have been teaching my students or have been preparing the next public event. And I ask myself whether my “ex-future” was really this one, where confined with my husband and my mother, I can at last pause my ex-future life to think about another future that I still have time to build…

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