How does one keep compassion alive while suffering the loss of love and close friendship? How does a witness to atrocious human rights violations search for meaning in an unstable world? Carolina Rivera Escamilla’s collection of short stories, entitled …after… chronicles a girl’s coming of age in turbulent times. She confronts repression, poverty, civil war, dashed parental hopes for disappearing and disappeared children, and the death squad murders of friends and family in 1980s El Salvador. As everything breaks apart, she and her people reach for shreds of certainty and hope in a future for everyone.
In …after…. Rivera composts memory. Her book lays it on, breaks it down, stirs it up, and mixes it with bravado and brilliance. Rivera’s language is plastic, visual and malleable. It inspires and shapes images. It adapts itself well to the subtleties of the Salvadoran world of the eighties. She carries them into a world of intimacy, the better to draw us into the emotions contained beneath her words. It is beautiful to discover her and to get to know her through her work.