“There’s a kind of hopelessness in childhood in post-dictatorships or in moments of institutional violence or after institutional violence,” Enriquez said. “It has something to do with — if you think of it as a metaphor — the lack of a future. So the child isn’t taken care of much in those circumstances. You’re obliged in a way to have your childhood mixed with all of that violence.”
Enriquez wrote her first novel, “Bajar Es Lo Peor,” or “Coming Down Is the Worst,” when she was still a teenager coming to terms with that reality. Recently rereleased in Spanish by Anagrama, it’s a tale of drugs, sex and misspent or mistreated youth, themes she has now returned to with an adult gaze.
Told from multiple perspectives and spanning time and place, from the occult-obsessed London of the 1960s and ’70s to the 1990s aftermath of Argentina’s “dirty war,” “Our Share of Night” renders scenes of cinematic horror as ably as it does depictions of psychological pain. Juan’s love for his son is tainted by a deep jealousy of the kind the writer bell hooks explores in “The Will to Change,” only here it is taken to macabre extremes.
With his health giving out, Juan faces the temptation of literally inhabiting his son’s younger, healthier body. Enriquez uses their relationship to explore parenthood, which she said is often portrayed in a rosy or simplistic light.
“When you’re watching a child grow while your life is ending, there is something more complex than what you typically hear in the discussion about childhood, about only the good, only the beautiful,” Enriquez said.
However ambivalent, Juan endeavors to protect his son from the Order, a secret society of wealthy families who threaten to use Gaspar as their next medium. The echoes of the worst realities of Argentina’s dictatorship are clear. One of the regime’s most morally destitute practices involved stealing the children of dissidents and giving them to families with ties to the dictatorship. Many of those dissidents were among the thousands of Argentines who didn’t just disappear but were disappeared — taken by security officers and never seen by their families again.
In Argentine Spanish, Enriquez notes, a common word for ghost is “aparecido,” the antithesis of these “desaparecidos,” or disappeared, that still haunt the country’s memory. “Even the language itself leads to the phantasmagorical of it all,” she said.