The Vancouver Latin American Cultural Centre presents:
Book Launch: Estado de Ausencia (State of Absence)
By Dafne Blanco Sarlay
Thursday March 28, 2019, 7-9pm
1885 Venables Street (basement) Vancouver, B.C.
Introduction notes by award-winning writer Carmen Rodríguez
Excerpts of the book will be read in Spanish and English
They were redeemed from their own stories not by forgiveness, but by love.
Stories like the one of the two Hungarian-Jewish immigrants who arrived in Mexico around 1930, and whose entire families perished in Nazi extermination camps a few years later; or the story about the granddaughter of a black slave who escaped from Cuba at the end of the 19th century and also found refuge in Mexico. Redemption in the face of the unwonted mesh woven by their descendants, who defied the establishment with the most forbidden of loves. Redemption from myriad other harrowing family secrets.
In the basement of a Vancouver home, overwhelmed by guilt and anguish, thread by thread, an unidentified Mexican woman unravels this intricate family mesh. As a starting point, she uses an enigmatic object —an amulet which, in an ignominious act she never thought she could commit, she snatched from a dying, undocumented woman who had crossed two borders to get to Canada.
Thus, State of Absence emerges: as a memoir that delves into contemporary Mexico and Canada, while tracing the emotional map of family relationships, racism, forced migration and genocide. Narrated with integrity and tenderness, unflinching and touching at the same time, State of Absence is a condemnation, a testimony and a song; a tribute to the triumph of love and dignity over horror and darkness.
Dafne Blanco Sarlay is a multidisciplinary artist originally from Mexico and based in Vancouver since 1996. She has been writing for as long as she can remember and decided to use the bathroom of her grandparents’ old house as the best setting for the opening scenes of State of Absence. That is how she began composing this family memoir, which took her more than three years to complete, in addition to a series of pilgrimages throughout the world and to the depths of her own internal journey of pain, mourning and transformation.