The Entre Rios Trilogy
The Jewish experience in Europe and the United States has been a popular subject in both fiction and nonfiction. Yet the story of each person is individual and unique, colored often by the shadow of persecution, by atrocity, deep loss and personal sacrifice. This is the message of Perla Suez’s trilogy of novellas, published here in one volume and newly translated by Rhonda Dahl Buchanan (with an introduction by Ivan Stavans). These entwined but independent tales of three different Jewish families in the Entre Ríos region of Argentina are presented in a spare and poetic style, and the evocative language, which echoes the natural rhythms of Suez’s native Spanish, conveys the poignancy of a time in history when Jews were fleeing government-sanctioned pogroms in Russia and Eastern Europe, and the soul of an entire people sought a new place to call home.
In the first novella, a girl recounts the trauma of her youth and loss of her mother; the second relates the tragic journey of a rice farmer into the city and his ensnarement in the bloody strikes of 1919; the third combines a subtle web of treachery and intrigue that mimics the callous power Great Britain exerted over Argentina at this time. Each novella offers its own voice, and in doing so captures a segment of history rarely explored. Nevertheless, this is not historical fiction as many readers have come to know it. Though the novellas take place in the past, The Entre Ríos Trilogy is more a literary exploration of the heart and soul of immigrants and outcasts, a meditation on the consequences of intolerance and injustice, and a paean to the perseverance of the human spirit.