“On the hills of mist”, novel about traditions, politics and guerrilla in Oaxaca

OAXACA, Oaxaca. (appro).- The novel over the hills of mist, by Daniel Aragón Reyes, tells a story about Oaxaca, the guerrilla and superstition; a past that resists oblivion.

The book, which revolves around the hills and their veil of mist; virtue, sin, the supernatural and the search for progress of a people, was presented at the Institute of Graphic Arts of Oaxaca (IAGO) by Jorge Pech Casanova (editor), Enna Osorio Montejo, Víctor Armando Cruz, Carlos Sorroza and Alberto Aragon Reyes.

The author maintains that it is a novel full of symbols that evokes hidden episodes in the history of Oaxaca and invokes the spirits of the hills with the force of orality.

The also psychologist and teacher confesses: “A few years ago, in 2018, I wrote this novel and it arises from oral tradition, from orality, mainly from my mother. She has the gift of narrative and here we talk about different legends, myths and symbols. She has told me, at different times in my life, different episodes of her town. She has that narrative gift that took me to the place. So, from the oral tradition in my life as a reader, she became that of a writer”.

Regarding the plot, he points out: “The novel combines two themes: that of the guerrilla and belief. Two themes that by themselves have a very great force in the Oaxacan territory. Along with these, two symbols are added: the hill and the mist, so that these four elements are combined, a fictional town called San Juan Neblina is created.

“It is a fictional town that has very characteristic features: it is embedded in the hills. It is a paradigmatic town. I try not to put dates and when the saw is mentioned, only, I do not speak specifically. The reader will realize with which mountain range it has more to do”.

In that fictional town live the drunk, the bully, the father who knows everyone’s sins. There the story unfolds that starts from the beginning of the 20th century and has to do with a kind of exodus caused by the Mexican revolution. The revolutionaries arrive in the valleys of Miahuatlán with excessive violence, they rape the women and they flee to the mountains, with nothing, and as they walk they encounter the essence of the hills.

These hills were dominated by belief and by ancient voices, of the great people who had an explanation for the phenomena of life, of nature.

“I believe that these voices of our ancestors had an explanation for evil,” says Aragón Reyes. If fireballs appeared in the mountains, ‘they are sorcerers fighting a buzzard,’ they said. ‘Ah, this means such.’ There was an explanation on the part of these sages and also the rezadores. Those who were getting married were told: ‘you have to do this’. There is a kind of rituals.

However, as the 20th century progresses, the belief loses strength and that voice becomes a kind of nostalgia. The beliefs and explanations of our ancestors are replaced by politics and now it explains the world, tells us who is good and who is bad.

As this vision increases, the guerrilla groups in the hills also mix with the beliefs, the massacres, with the land struggle. conflict breaks out,

reaches the ears of the governor, also fictitious. When the Oaxacan festivities arrive and the president listens to the serious problems of the foggy region, he says a phrase that becomes recurrent in the book: “I wish everything was like the fucking Guelaguetza.” This phrase means a lot because the Guelaguetza is the moment when the government shines and social problems are hidden.

As speculation spreads about the intentions of the armed group, the role of the people’s leaders, who advocates for good and who for evil, and it is not clear, the symbol of the mist returns: a very beautiful natural phenomenon , but also a veil that does not give us enough clarity, does not allow us to see reality.

There is a moment in which the sacredness of a hill is violated: it is a confusion between smoke and mist. “Then this blurred question arises: there is no clarity, and this produces an effect on the reader because he will say: ‘Let’s see, isn’t this novel talking about a reality?’”

Although it is a short novel, the author explains, it is full of symbols. There is a triggering moment in which an animal appears in the town and the town gives it a very strong symbolic charge: “That is the triggering event of the novel, as if it were an omen.”

The book includes illustrations by the plastic artist Alberto Aragón Reyes, who created his own publishing house to contribute to cultural and literary dissemination.

“On the hills of mist”, novel about traditions, politics and guerrilla in Oaxaca