Books

Voyager by Nona Fernandez review: Memory as an act of rebellion

Nona Fernandez's clear-eyed memoir, Voyager, eschews sentimentality in the retelling of her mother's life in Chile under the dictatorship of Pinochet

Voyager: Constellations of Memory by Nona Fernandez

Voyager: Constellations of Memory by Nona Fernandez is out now (Daunt, £9.99)

Nona Fernandez’s brief memoir, Voyager: Constellations of Memory, is concerned with disrupting the sentimentalisation of memory. By combining her mother’s epilepsy journey with the successful petition to dedicate a constellation to 26 people executed by Pinochet’s Caravan of Death in the Atacama desert in October 1973, Fernandez makes a strong argument for the personal and political potency of memory. 

Voyager concerns itself with removing the gloss of sentimentality and holds reverence for the life of her mother and the collective memory of Chile. Fernandez’s attachment to the stars grants her perspective. She is in awe of the chaos and chance that led us all here. But through the stars that have been dedicated to the victims of Pinochet’s dictatorship, memory becomes an act of rebellion, remembrance is defined not just by determined preservation. Voyager stresses the details of memoir. Fernandez’s book becomes a poignant reminder in itself, that in order to prevent the crimes of the past, a history of violence and the names of those accountable must not be lost in our internal archives. 

Billie Walker is a freelance writer

Voyager: Constellations of Memory by Nona Fernandez

Voyager: Constellations of Memory by Nona Fernandez is out now (Daunt, £9.99). You can buy it from The Big Issue shop on Bookshop.org, which helps to support The Big Issue and independent bookshops.

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