by Lina Meruane
Lina Meruane, Chilean author of Seeing Red, comes with a weighty recommendation from one of Chile’s most famous novelists, Roberto Bolaño.
The novel’s heroine, Lucina, is at a party in Manhattan when an ocular haemorrhage leaves her blind: “It was no fire I was seeing, it was blood spilling out inside my eye. The most shockingly beautiful blood I have ever seen.”
The threat of impending doom has lent Lucina a sharp sense of her mortality: “I was carrying a time bomb inside me, ticking faster and faster.”
Bearing the brunt of Lucina’s rage and fear is her partner, Ignacio, who is beset by his own frailties. What ensues is a paranoid power struggle as each tests the other’s commitment to unsettling degrees.
Lucina is not the first character to imbue sightlessness with metaphorical powers – what she calls “my very blind and very wide eyes”. These recall her life in Chile (“My memory’s visual laws dictated the landscape”) and detail her struggles to adapt to America. But rarely has partial vision been evoked with such visceral fervour.
Seeing Red is not for the meek, but you won’t forget it in a hurry.