A review of Jorge Franco's Paradise Travel
Gabriel García Márquez imprisoned a generation of aspiring writers. Jorge Franco-with Paradise Travel, now available in English translation-has set them free.
The prose of García Márquez, entrenched in the novelist’s bittersweet hardscrabble bohemian struggle- but soaring on the gossamer wings of an intricate mythology-was so compelling it was almost impossible for the novice not to try to write like him. Nor was it uncommon for the serious reader to look for more of the same species of word spell. Won over by this Colombian from Aracataca and his new way of telling the old tales about love and solitude and death, the global literary community seemed to turn "magical realist" for a while.
Then along comes Jorge Franco, and once again we learn we are in the grip of another Colombian with universal designs for his fiction and the mastery to achieve it. With four well-received works published in Spanish in his native country, Franco’s already a name to reckon with there. But here, in the United States, the fervor is only just beginning.
That’s because, somewhat improbably, Franco has written the great American novel-no, the great Pan-American novel-from Medellín. And he’s done so, on his own terms, on the strength of his own voice, one that manages to get the whole world into his prose without resorting to the techniques of magical realism. With Franco, the magic is all hidden. All we get is the story, all that we crave most from it.
You can find the review here