Language: español

Year of publication: 2024

Valuation: recommendable

Last installment of that kind of great novel by ditto that Eduardo Halfon has been offering us for years; all different, it is not that it is repeated, but they all come to deal with the same thing: his life, his family, his country and the circumstances of all of them, in an exercise of autofiction (we would have to see how much there is of “auto” and as “fiction”, which I suspect is a good part) that, for once and without serving as a precedent, not only does it not disgust me but it has me interested and even fascinated… Because, I will not tire of repeating it every time. Sometimes when necessary, Halfon writes very, very well, and thus everything can be forgiven.

You can even forgive him for going down somewhat well-trodden paths. Because here, friends of ULAD, in this umpteenth literary-memorizing exercise that Halfon offers us and that not only delights us, but can even make our hair stand on end, we can see a bit of his cardboard, I’m afraid… At least a couple of times and even more so if we put ourselves in inquisitorial mode, which, well, is not the case either because we like Halfon or I like him, especially well, but even so, it must be pointed out that some situations that he presents in the book are quite predictable, or may even seem like a direct mystification to certain readers… (I will not reveal what it is because it is not a question of spoiling anyone, of course). And the starting point of the novel is, to say the least, original: the author recalls when, at the age of thirteen and after a couple of years living in the US, his parents sent him and his brother back to Guatemala to spend some time in a mountain camp aimed at children from Central American Jewish families, with the aim of turning them not only into good Jews, but even into good Sinoists. Of course, the camp is planned to go even further and offer the kids a complete immersion in the Jewish experience, in all its breadth, and I can say this much, that the point is to get you to read the book, not to make a summary like the fake A Book a Day (which unfortunately exists).

I know what you might say, because it is the same thing I thought at first (and perhaps it was the same thing they said in their editorial), that this 2024, I’m sorry, Eduardo, is not the most appropriate time for readers to empathize with the plight of Jewish children from wealthy families who are being trained to be good Zionists, and you would not be wrong. Now, thinking about it, perhaps Eduardo Halfon has published this part of his “great autofiction novel” in this 2024 so unfavourable for certain solidarity on purpose because it not only deals with the troubles of Jewish children in a camp in the mountains of Guatemala, but, above all, with the poison that the tarantula of the title – it is a metaphor, all arachnophobes can relax – is capable of inoculating in anyone and causing the infected to behave in the most barbaric way possible, massacring any Palestinian child who comes across them, for example… And for that poison, I fear, there is no possible antidote. Not even belonging to a people or a religion, which has suffered unspeakably over the centuries. And that is something that Halfon knows well and tells us about here.

Many more books by Eduardo Halfon reviewed: here


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