A while ago we brought you an excerpt from Manuel Tiago’s The 3rd Floor, stories of the Portuguese Communist resistance under fascism. Now Eric Gordon has translated into English another book of Tiago’s called Border Crossings, a collection of short stories about the everyday lives of those who worked for the party resistance and had to flee from town to town and country to country as they carried out their assignments.
Tiago, whose real name was Álvaro Cunhal, based these stories on his longtime experiences in the Portuguese Communist Party. As Eric Gordon writes in his introduction, “One theme that pops up in story after story here is that of communication, cooperation and collaboration. No one makes these journeys alone. They are aided by a global support system that recognized the critical importance of these crossings.”
I would add that these stories taken as a whole add up to a three dimensional portrait of ordinary people doing heroic things in extraordinary times.
Here’s one story from Border Crossings called “Women over the Soajo.”
Click on the triangle or mp3 link above to hear the story as broadcast today on WBAI FM NYC and Pacifica stations across the nation.
The longtime head of the Portuguese Communist Party, Álvaro Cunhal, spent many years of his life in Portuguese fascist prisons. Later in exile, from the 1950s onward, he wrote novels, novellas and short stories about Portuguese life under the fascists who ruled from 1927 to the early 1970s. In particular, he wrote of the leading role of the Portuguese Communist Party in the anti-fascist struggle for almost 50 years. To create a literary identity apart from his political renown, he employed the pen name Manuel Tiago.
Author and translator Eric Gordon set himself the task of translating Cunhal’s work into English, and so far, the books Five Days, Five Nights and The Six-Pointed Star have appeared from International Publishers. The 3rd Floor has just been issued, with five more books on their way.
The title story is a prison break tale. In the excerpt I’ll be reading, the Communist prisoners have worked out a messaging system with the Party by writing on little bits of cigarette papers and smuggling them in and out under the buttons of shirts in the dirty prison laundry. A trio of prisoners who are secretly working on a prison break have just received back a message from the Party.
Click the triangle or mp3 link above to hear the story, as broadcast today on Arts Express on WBAI FM NYC, and Pacifica stations across the country.