Angelita Unearthed by Mariana Enriquez (Translated by Megan McDowell)

This is the first from a short story collection by the Argentinian writer Mariana Enriquez from The Dangers of Smoking in Bed only recently translated in English as far as I’m aware.

Angelita Unearthed is a short story dark yet interesting and surreal and shows us how (in Argentina as it does in many other cultures) how we live and survive changes over generations. The narrator lives alone, thinking she has disappointed her father by not making him a grandfather in his lifetime. She definitely does not live the same life as her grandmother who had many siblings. Something happens however, that almost definitely brings those old times to the forefront. The ghost of her dead grant auntie Angelita appears before her. Angelita was only a baby when she died and she appears to our narrator fleshy and decaying and thus we get to see what the write Marian Enriquez is all about and what I suspect I will be expecting from her in her subsequent stories. We read how our narrator interprets Angelita’s actions and what she wants also learning that her grandmother’s superstitions had an element of truth to them.

I found this short story (which is less than ten pages long) fascinating because there was an element of the familiar about it. There are old stories from my family from my grandparent’s generation of brothers and sister they had who died young. I, like the narrator definitely don’t have a family of my own. The difference being with our narrator is that she suddenly gets a stark reminder from Angelita about her family’s past. There is apparent strangeness that I have come across in writers before (Kafka etc) and Enriquez does a good job in putting something that you would expect from an older story in a more contemporary setting along side the anxieties and thoughts of the modern day along side something we would never consider. In this case a decaying zombie baby ghost who is also a family member. I have yet to look at the other short stories but if this first one is anything to go by I’m sure I will not be disappointed.