Mirie Mouynés is a writer from Panama, a country that sees itself as a bridge between nations and between people. Perhaps inspired by this perspective, her work takes a good hard look at situations where bridges are burned rather than built. In “Black Friday” ("Viernes negro"), she writes about a dark moment in inter-American relationships, when US forces invaded Panama in 1989, under the direction of President George Bush, Sr. to remove General Manuel Antonio Noriega from power.
The story opens during the uneasy lull that hung over the country for months prior to the invasion, and conveys a powerful sense of being trapped like an animal in a cage, pacing restlessly, just waiting for something to happen.
The action follows two schoolboys who seem to represent both extremes of public feelings that range from confused apathy to heroic idealism. The writer covers the escalating chaos with journalistic immediacy, reporting the outrage, the panic on the streets, and the oppressive threat of violence with the crispness of a telephoto lens. Ms. Mouynés, who lives in Panama City, writes, “My country: The bridge of the world, the heart of the universe. My country: small, alone, afraid.” This is the kind of literature that provides an insider’s view of events that are not always deeply explored on the evening news.
Mirie’s stint at the Iowa Writers Workshop brought her into contact with Tony Beckwith, who has since translated a number of her stories, reviews, and essays.
Copyright 2014 Tony Beckwith. All rights reserved.