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Rodrigo Fuentes. Cortesía del autor
Rodrigo Fuentes. Cortesía del autor

Trout, belly up

"Trout, belly up" by Guatemalan Rodrigo Fuentes is a collection of well-achieved stories, portraying the small stories of Guatemala and all of Latin America.

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To wake up and see all the trouts breeding with the belly up, sunbathing, floating while they are taking scent, to know of an insurgent cow with dog tricks, a lost dog and the worries of a man to find it while it resists the syndrome of abstinence, a community that resists... These are some of the characters in "Trout, belly up," the collection of stories by Guatemalan Rodrigo Fuentes.

"Trucha belly up" collects stories that speak of the modest world of rural life in Guatemala or, at most, of life in a residential complex. They are stories without great pretensions, it does not try to refound Latin American literature, it simply narrates again and again the small world of that set of characters that he chose to have near a season, the season that has lasted the writing of the book.

"Trucha panza arriba" de Rodrigo Fuentes. El Cuervo Editorial

In doing so, Fuentes allowed us to approach the simple beauty of that sometimes precarious world. Of that world that doesn't have great pretensions either, but that's why we can find it again and again in the Guatemalan, Colombian, Cuban, Argentinean fields. The same dog is lost time and again in this city and the other, while a father and a daughter walk hand in hand in search of it. Crops are damaged, animals die, families suffer, somehow recover and watch time pass by.

The best time is at dusk, when we gather around the tanks. Ermiña comes out of the covacha, the girls appear from the jungle accompanied by Balú, and I bring the sack of trout food. Each one grabs a handful. We get close to the edge of the tank, count to three, and together we throw the bunch into the sky. As soon as we fall, the surface is disturbed by the splashing of the trout. That's when I love to see my girls, their half-open mouths and big eyes, as if they saw it all for the first time. Ermiña smiles in silence, attentive also to our daughters, and then I’m filled with a happiness that I only feel when I climb on my own to the rock at the top of the mountain range. We wait for the splash to go out, the last tails of the trouts shining in that afternoon light, and then we enter the covacha together for dinner. (P. 17)

It seems that Fuentes has decided to stay and observe this small universe in order to take us through it with patience and the modesty of those who know that they are faced with something precious and fragile. Something that is precious and fragile precisely because it doesn't believe it is. Something whose value we only understand when we appreciate the beauty of the home seen from afar.

"Trout, belly up" has been published in Guatemala, Bolivia and Colombia and translated into English and French, was a finalist for the Gabriel García Márquez Hispanic American Short Story Prize. This book of short stories also earned him a place in Bogotá 39, a selection of the 39 best writers under the age of 39 in Latin America.

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