"¡Alumbra, lumbre de alumbre, Luzbel de piedralumbre! Como zumbido de oídos persistía el rumor de las campanas ...."
I read this in Guatemala more than three decades ago.
And while some of my memories of the country I called home during my earliest years have faded (or healed or diminished or become distant and pale as old photographs) the opening of Miguel Ángel Asturias’ seminal magical realist novel, El Señor Presidente, never has.
Because books shape us.
I read it as a form of resistance. It was, after all, about Manuel Estrada Cabrera, an early 20th century Guatemalan dictator heading a regime very much like the ones that would follow his. The ones that would put the country through thirty-plus years of armed internal conflict and genocide. The ones I was living under when I read the book.
I read it as an incantation against forgetting. I was young when I read it, but even my juvenile, half-formed conscience knew what this book did: it called out the present by looking at the past. It saw the dispossessed, the marginalized, the invisible. And if it could do that, couldn’t we all?
I read it as magic. Because words are the beginning of magic, and with them, we learn to make and unmake. To spell. To create speculation about what could be, or might be — if only we conjure it true.
Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History is an anthology that sets out to conjure history true. Writer Daniel José Older, editor Rose Fox and publisher Crossed Genres describe the book (slated for release in early 2014) this way:
“Most written chronicles of history, and most speculative stories, put rulers, conquerors, and invaders front and center. People with less power, money, or status—enslaved people, indigenous people, people of color, queer people, laborers, women, people with disabilities, the very young and very old, and religious minorities, among others—are relegated to the margins. Today, mainstream history continues to perpetuate one-sided versions of the past while mistelling or erasing the stories of the rest of the world.
There is a long and honorable legacy of literary resistance to erasure. This anthology partakes of that legacy. It will feature stories from the margins of speculative history, each taking place between 1400 and the early 1900s and putting a speculative twist—an element of science fiction, fantasy, horror, or the unclassifiably strange—on real past events.”
They have enough funds to include approximately 20 stories in the anthology, and have asked a number of very accomplished speculative fiction writers to submit work to be considered for it. But they are also planning to have an open submission period, and would like to be able to gather enough supplemental funding to include 10 additional stories.
If you are a reader of this “Nuestras Voces, Our Voices” series, you already know that there are many fine, undiscovered writers that deserve to be heard. In fact, some of you are those writers. If fully funded, Long Hidden will be a book of stories of resistance, of incantation, of magic. Please help make it a reality by clicking here and pledging your support.