The title of Gisela Kozak’s latest collection of short stories, En rojo (In Red), is somewhat more ambiguous than those of her previous publications including Latidos de Caracas (Caracas Beats) and Pecados de la capital y otras historias (Sins From the Capital and Other Stories). Self defining as a ‘choral narration’, the collection records movements of Kozak’s native city in an atonal key, with long lapses of silence and sudden bursts of sharp shrieks. The overall sound is harsh on the ear (grating at best, unbearable at worst), though somehow works to captivate the reader, not least given the stark beauty of the prose or the human insight of its author.
Each story provides a two-page glimpse into the life of a caraqueño, the overtones of the title transforming with each shift in the narrative composed of seven movements. The first stark reference is to the brick red used by Venezuela’s ruling party in the style of twenty first century socialism. In ‘El gran despecho’ and ‘Instrucciones para ingresar en una nueva sociedad’, pillar box tones are worn by characters enslaved by an obligation to the state, and sported by masses marching in support of the president. More faded shades serve as a backdrop to a disappearing faith in ideology; declarations of apathy signed in blood ink. National politics invades the home, tainting relationships and driving opposing forces apart.