By Carabela García October 17, 2017
Members of the intellectual elite in the Dominican Republic expressed shock, concern and disbelief after learning that Frank Moya Pons is back to writing actual history.
Moya Pons is a well-known intellectual who in the 1970s conducted breakthrough research on the colonial society known as Spanish Santo Domingo.
By the late 1970s, and while the Cold War raged on, Moya Pons abandoned writing actual history altogether— or as one roca izquierda intellectual recently put it, Moya Pons gave up on the pursuit of truth— and embraced the male-dominated field of historical fiction.
For close to three decades, Moya Pons constructed an alternate and distorted universe that today many of his readers mistake for Dominican society. The former historian created a twisted, fantastical world inhabited by characters known as Chapitas that spoke a language that sounded like a cross between Fordian speech and double-speak; a deterministic world of magical clocks, talking goats and infinite mazes that several US-based academics—themselves historical fiction wannabes—have eagerly incorporated it as sound research.
In Moya Pons’ fantasy genre books, the role of African descendants, peasant and working class women, progressive intellectuals and sexual dissidents in the making of Dominican society and the Caribbean is either absent or minimized by the stroke of a pen. Further, the crimes committed by both the modern nation-state and powerful elites are barely mentioned or not mentioned at all or mentioned in somewhat small letters in a footnote.
In Moya Pons’ books, the dictum, “if it is not written it didn’t happen” plays a central role in structuring the plot, the sequence of events and the climax. Silence then, guides the narrative at all times. In fact, through a calculated process of erasure, Moya Pons inverts time and space, turning Dominican society upside down: unrecognizable and defaced.
It is a marvelous trick that places Frank Moya Pons next to some of the masters (or machitos) of historical fiction and more.
Update: As of this writing, we still don’t know what prompted Moya Pons to get back to writing actual history. According to one anonymous source who goes by R_M_N_, Moya Pons is concerned whether or not his new endeavors will ever see the light of the day since publishing houses in the DR do not sign contracts with authors who veer away from traditional historical narratives and myths.
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