BOGOTA – Colombian author Manuel Jose Rincon, who says he takes refuge in literature to escape the real world and understand it from the standpoint of fiction, has sought in his debut novel to shed light on the dark world of prostitution and people trafficking.
Rincon, who got his start in writing as a journalist, had previously penned short stories before making his first foray into the novel genre with “Princesas en Amsterdam” (Princesses in Amsterdam), published by Taller de Edicion Roca and released this week.
“Literature is a way for me to escape the world and try to understand it from the perspective of fiction. We’re being overrun by corruption, bad politics, illegality and callousness,” he said in an interview with EFE.
That perception is on display in the novel, which portrays “power relations and a machismo that generates violence toward females and toward women in prostitution.”
“Princesas en Amsterdam” is the story of three women – a Colombian named Marina, a Dominican named Carmen and a Thai named Noi Awi – whose parallel worlds converge on the path of prostitution in the European cities of Madrid and Amsterdam, where each tries to escape her living hell and find salvation in her own way.
That salvation is found to a certain extent in art, “which makes human beings better people or helps them overcome the harshness of their daily existence,” Rincon said.
“In this case, the Thai woman invents a story and takes refuge in an imaginary world; the Colombian has a need to learn the truth about paramilitary massacres in Trujillo, a town in the western Colombian province of Valle del Cauca – for her memory and truth are necessary for her to forgive; and the Dominican overcomes her confinement by reading ‘The Diary of Anne Frank,’” he explains.