“The condor in the water”: chronicle of a disaster

“El Cóndor en el agua” is the latest novel by Yuri Soria-Galvarro (Bolivia, 1968), published this year 2022 by Simply Editores.

It is a very short novel. In 50 pages it narrates the adventures and misadventures of a sailor, a member of the crew of a factory ship; called “Dawn” and later “Obelisk”; who navigates the southern seas in search of cod, in illegal operations. The most important thing is not the tasks, but the relationships between the crew members and the protagonist’s dreams. simple dreams. It was embarked only for economic needs.

The protagonist; known as the Turtle; she tells her story to a character X, he can be a journalist, an investigator, and in this narration the details of the journey appear, life inside a factory ship; the conflicts that arise; the landscape of the South Seas; the different characters of some crew members and the outcome of the long journey.

Life inside that ship is hell, men subjected to work against time and resist the harsh conditions of confinement and bad weather, everything seems to unleash the demons that each one carries. The protagonist is surrounded by a series of characters that we will get to know in flashes: Chirino, Roselot, Margarito, Abelardo, Mr. Brown and Captain Evens.

Each of them brings with them a past and the desire to leave that job, just like the protagonist who remembers his wife and children; and he hopes to leave that job soon and settle on the mainland to become the man he wants to be: a family man, a husband to his wife and a father to his children. A boy who leads a simple life, away from problems.

It’s just a matter of time to achieve it. One last sacrifice. Maybe it’s a joke from the novel, we think that life is a little further, always a little further and while you have to sacrifice yourself to get the necessary means to really live, because what you live today is just an effort, a means to reach the real and longed-for life which is almost always a mirage, a dream that we tell ourselves.

The days inside the warehouse are hard both for work and for the working environment. That life on board isn’t life, or it’s a life nobody wants, the only thing they stay for is the possibility of earning money, even if that means forcing resistance, and living in a little hell. That the vessel breaks international law while carrying out the task is just a small anecdote. The protagonist takes refuge in a handful of friends, going out to smoke on the bridge when he can and observing the birds with his Carl Zeiss binoculars and an old ornithological guide.

As a setting, the factory ship offers some special features. An enclosed space, the characters live a sentence within its walls, but the ship is also condemned to wander permanently. The ship is also a space without a local identity, perhaps all the factory ships in the world have the same characteristics: a place where people from different parts meet; all looking for money; relational violence; the lack of solidarity, of empathy.

The madness around the corner: “We continued the good run for two weeks with no big news until Hee happened, a Korean in the first round who went crazy. The crew’s mental health, as I’ve already told you, wasn’t the best, you needed some disturbance to be there. But it’s another thing to go crazy” (p 36).

In my opinion, the author builds a solid story, without narrative fuss or unnecessary drama. The story progresses and the outcome could not be another. “El cóndor en el agua” “settles itself quietly in the Spanish-American literary tradition”, as Oscar Barrientos Bradasic states on the back cover.

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  • The content expressed in this opinion column is the sole responsibility of its author and does not necessarily reflect the editorial line or position of The meter.

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