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Collection: INTERAMER
Number: 70
Year: 2001
Author: Rhonda Dahl Buchanan, Editora
Title: El río de los sueños: Aproximaciones críticas a la obra de Ana María Shua


The varied types of fantasy which Shua employs, provide children entertainment, relief and release from reality, as well as role models in situations which they might experience, and re-creations of the fears and longings they may have. Yet they are not moralistic or didactic like many tales today which, when transformed into children’s literature, often confuse adult interpretations and needs with those of children. Children like to be let in on the secrets, they like laughable but not mockable situations, characters, and stories. Shua responds to children’s need for empathy toward characters, for inclusion of themselves in the narrations (first person narrator, notes to the reader), and for a good story.

Adults reading Shua’s fantasy like her specificity of word, her underlying political comments for adults (the blind and deaf crocodile and elephant leaders, the lack of authority in adults), the means of access to one’s own childhood through memories, her careful research, and her tone that can be serious but never sermonizing. And adults like a good story too. Her thoughts on narrative technique are intriguing to both children and adult readers as potential writers.

When I first talked with Ana María Shua in her office in 1992, she had only one book of literature there, A Thousand and One Nights, whose stories she would read when she needed a break. That book not only provided her with a respite, it became a model for her story construction. Shua reads about another woman story teller, Sheherezade, who created and re-created traditional tales with fictional narrative skills so superior that she extended her life 1001 days until her caliph husband lifted her sentence of death. According to Borges one becomes what one reads, even becoming the author at the point of creation. Shua is a new Sheherazade spinning the old tales with new twists, to keep herself and the reader alive through fantasy, wit, tradition, and innovation.