Irene, who is looking after her new born twins as her marriage falls apart, revisits a troubled past in which the memories of her sick brother mix with the dangerous activities of armed groups operating in Columbia’s Caribbean region and remembers a suffocating home life where her closest relationship was with Luzmila, the maid who had worked for her family for a long time. As she revisits her teenage years in a Caribbean world of discrimination and political violence where class is in evidence everywhere, she looks for clues that will help her understand her current malaise.
The narration moves between bodies of water where violence erupts in the form of the ‘miraculous fishing’ of the 1990s, evocations of the Magdalena river which crosses the whole of Colombia, from the South to the Northern shores of the Caribbean Sea, of the streams that take over the city, of the nearby swamps, and more poetic forms of water that wash away the weight of family life and the memories of Irene’s childhood. Questioning Colombian society and exposing the limits of normative femininity, VIGILIA is a novel full of women who dream of escaping.
“Multiple paths of blood throb through this powerful novel: one opens the way to the turbulent adolescence of two friends and another stops them as they reach adulthood and all the way through the bloody violence ravaging Colombia can be glimpsed in the background. Blood flows in the form of a striking prose saturated with beauty”
- Lina Meruane
“There is in Daniella Sánchez Russo’s writing a great awareness of the environment in which stories emerge, of our vices and also our deep-rooted fears. In someone else’s hand her characters could look like victims but no here. Here there is humanity, fierceness and the kind of darkness that lets in a light that slips between sentences and illuminates exactly what she wants to show us”
- Margarita García Robayo
“‘All this I remember could be a lie. The matter would worry me if I were looking for the truth.’ This aphorism appears on one of the pages of Vigilia, the first novel by the Barranquilla writer Daniella Sánchez Russo and serves as a reading key to understanding the ominous world into which Irene, her narrator, plunges us. With masterful nods to the literature of Donoso and Saer, this novel explores family tragedy from a voice split in time. Throughout the pages, we listen to an adolescent Irene as a witness of? political violence that threatens the stability of the upper class of Barranquilla, but also to an adult Irene who tries to understand the private violence that caused her marriage to fall apart. As if it were the cloudy water of her childhood pools, which the narrator revisits over and over again, Vigilia tells us about those familiar wells, lakes of thick blood, that remain cloudy in her memory”
- Diario Criterio, The Twelve Best Books of the Year (2022)