Writing and Reading Trash in Fuenzalida by Nona Fernández
How to remember Chile’s dictatorial past (1973-1990) remains a pertinent question as time passes, socio-political landscapes change, and unhealed wounds persist. Nona Fernández’s novel Fuenzalida (2012), uses trash objects to reflect on post-dictatorial memory, albeit often indirectly. Commonly associated with death and excess, trash in this novel is also a source of intimate memories and artistic imagination. This article analyzes how Fuenzalida’s multiple manifestations of trash—literal, metaphoric, and aesthetic—offer suggestions for how to engage with and sustain memory in 21st century Chile. The novel’s fictional endeavors to recycle and rethink meanings and tropes through the ambiguities of waste ultimately propose an ethics of memory that encourages self-reflection and attunement to others, or positive empathy. I interpret how the novel deals with discards through trash collection, personification, inter- and intratextuality, and parody, as suggestions for memory acts that hinge on movement, ambiguity, creative storytelling, and sensitivity.