*(San Diego’s East County) – Nuria Garcia Arteaga, an accomplished author and musician from Lima, Peru, now living in The Netherlands, has written and compiled a work of art that explores romance and intimacy; Love Marathon (“La maraton del amor”).
Love Marathon is a trilogy that follows the lives of three women, Malucha, Maniro and Magnolia. The three women hail from disparate socioeconomic backgrounds and exemplify the novel’s epigraph: “Latin American women are like their nations, some self-destruct, others are destroyed and a few survive.”
This trilogy of stories in Love Marathon; Between Drizzle and Hate, Menkori and Of Sun and Moon captures the essence of human endeavor and frailty. The book is written in English and Spanish. Click to view video.
Arteaga sets the tone for this emotional and heartfelt story by utilizing music and the theme of the epigraph throughout. The author borrows from her own early life in Lima, Peru to tell this story. She defines herself as a mix of cultures and races, with her father being African American and her mother Peruvian, and the author having the ability to speak 6 languages. This book is about women and their emotions. It is interesting to note that when I asked of the author her description and definition of love, personally, she stated: “Love is the emotional bonding with everything around you. Starting with your children, family, friends and nature! It is a force that will make you prevail when other people give up. It is the peace that you find inside, remembering the best moments of your life.” This seems a marked departure from what she has actually written in Love Marathon.
Arteaga is clearly a romantic, as demonstrated in another and similar of her works; Carmen Y Cuba. Carmen lives in Holland and works in Cuba. After two decades she meets again Jean Paul, the love of her life. She shares with him a night of passion. As with Love Marathon and seemingly most of her writings, the story has a bitter-sweet ending.
The author has been writing since ‘she could hold a pencil.’ At ten years old she received the second prize at a national schools competition for short tales based on the Inca culture. The pride in her culture and upbringing comes across clearly in her writings. With her musical background, this story is interspersed with her passion for musical expression, as between 1996 and 2012, Nuria had written six musicals in the framework of preventing inter-ethnic violence amongst youth in The Netherlands and to increase values and counter work corruption in Peru. As a matter of fact, one of her compositions is currently being considered by the Los Angeles Times “Festival of Books” at USC April 18th and 19th. One could easily say that music plays a big part in everything she does, including this book. She states that she listens to music when writing and makes music that could serve as background for the readers. Click here to listen to “Love Bruises.”
Arteaga gives a capsulized approach to Love Marathon by starting from the childhood of these three teenage girls that meet at a former convent in Barrios Altos, colonial Lima. They become like sisters. After 5 years at boarding school, they live a while together in Lima in a house bought by Maniro’s dad.
Malucha is reared by a lady from Iquitos (Amazon region of Peru) that forms her character. Her mother, Gabriela, works at a factory; she has a depressive character caused by a violent father and the loss of her mom when she was young. She never recovers from the abuse suffered from her husband.
Maniro’s mother, Iraida, died at birth. Her father, Don Augusto, is from Curazao and works at passengers’ ships. Being African-Indian she is rejected by her grandma who is a racist ‘creole’. She is raised by a neighbor who is half Ashaninca (ethnic group from the amazon region).
Magnolia is a love child, her mother Flora, was an orphan that married the heir of a wealthy mining family from Trujillo, north coast of Peru. Her father died in a bus accident.
Untold misery and tragedy would follow these women, told in a manner by Arteaga that tugs at the heartstrings of the reader. Coming from the background that these young women came from, one would hope for a better life for them, but that was not to be the case. Perhaps this fictional story says more about the author, than that of the actual characters in the story, in that she would choose to portray them as she did. There is definitely an abundance of joy and pain in this trilogy of stories; Between Drizzle and Hate, Menkori and Of Sun and Moon.
The author alludes to the violence in the lives of the central characters in Love Marathon, namely Malucha, Maniro and Magnolia, coupled with the intermittent love and intimacy in their lives. It is interesting to note that with Arteaga being a prolific writer, having also written a book entitled Intercultural Neurosis, she uses the same character of Magnolia in it, as she states: “The story presents domestic violence while living in a foreign country and being married to a Dutch executive. Magnolia has only one chance: to escape Ecuador with her two sons. Fragments of the story are presented by the author with Andes music depicts Magnolia’s grief and her determination to protect her two sons.” This is eerily similar to the plot and theme of Love Marathon.
There are many plot twists in Love Marathon, (3 Shades of Love) including Malucha being murdered in a sexual encounter in Europe, Maniro committing suicide in Oslo, and Magnolia going back to Trujillo, Peru to be with her mother, after being subjected to psychological and financial deprivation by her husband after their divorce. There are many intricacies in this story, which perhaps gives a whole new meaning to Love Marathon, which certainly makes for intriguing reading that this author seems to pour her soul into.
Although fictional, and through my numerous email communications and phone conversations with the author, I get the distinct impression that what she has written in Love Marathon is somehow an extension of her own life. A case in point is the parallel of her once being married and because of the work of her husband living in Equador and Chile. This is eerily similar to the situation and circumstances of the fictional character Magnolia also being married to a businessman and living in Equador. Perhaps one day the author will tell me.
Dennis Moore is the Associate Editor for the East County Magazine in San Diego and the book review editor for SDWriteway, an online newsletter for writers in San Diego that has partnered with the East County Magazine. He has also been a freelance contributor to EURweb based out of Los Angeles and the Baja Times Newspaper in Rosarito Beach, Mexico. Mr. Moore can be contacted at [email protected] or you can follow him on Twitter at: @DennisMoore8.