Jan
28

Beautiful Forevers

Lunes, 28 de enero de 2013

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Me lo ha recomendado medio mundo. Y con razón. Behind the Beautiful Forevers de Katherine Boo es el mejor libro que he leído sobre la pobreza. Su éxito es totalmente merecido.

Boo penetra y luego retrata la vida de un barrio en la India, pero las observaciones del libro son transferibles a barrios pobres de otros países. De hecho, pienso que este libro arroja luz sobre la situación política venezolana; nos ayuda a entender mejor por qué Hugo Chávez sigue siendo popular entre los más pobres.

Luego profundizaré sobre este tema. Por ahora, quiero comentar una observación de Boo:

When I pick a story, I’m very much aware of the larger issues that it’s illuminating. But one of the things that I, as a writer, feel strongly about is that nobody is representative. That’s just narrative nonsense. People may be part of a larger story or structure or institution, but they’re still people. Making them representative loses sight of that. Which is why a lot of writing about low-income people makes them into saints, perfect in their suffering.

Algo que me impactó del libro es cuánto se parecen lo más pobres al resto de nosotros. Un ejemplo: el estatus. El orgullo, la inseguridad y los complejos que resultan del estatus o la posición social, la necesidad de mostrar a los demás superioridad de clase, o la verguenza y envidia que causa sentirse económicamente inferior al resto, están tan presentes dentro de los barrios más pobres como en los vecindarios más ricos. Sólo que en los barrios los símbolos de estatus son más modestos. Mientras los ricos exhiben sus yates o presumen de sus viajes, los pobres exhiben ante los demás pobres sus neveras o equipos de aire acondicionado. Pero las frivolidades y mezquindades son las mismas. Como dice Boo, los pobres no son santos, “perfectos en su sufrimiento.”

Quizá esto es obvio para muchos, pero a mí me sorprendió. Instintivamente, pensaba que la necesidad extrema no dejaba mucho espacio para estas pequeñeces. (Un bebé de dos años que aparece en el libro tiene los cachetes llenos de mordidas de rata).

En segundo lugar, Boo ilumina con su comentario una tensión inherente en la ficción y también en la narrativa periodística. Un error que cometen frecuentemente los novelistas (Sartre es un excelente ejemplo) es que la humanidad de los personajes desaparece detrás de un tema, una idea o una estructura. Es decir, el escritor quiere que su personaje ilumine una realidad más grande que el personaje: el clientelismo, la corrupción, la inercia burocrática, el aislamiento social en las sociedades modernas o cosas por el estilo. Pero lograr esto requiere de un delicado equilibrio. Demasiado énfasis en el tema, la idea o la estructura puede reducir al personaje hasta despojarlo de su humanidad. Porque, como dice Boo, nadie es perfectamente representativo.

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Categories : Política