Grief in the Atacama Desert

Two women search for the remains of their loved ones, killed in wake of Chile's 1973 military coup, at a site in the Atacama desert

Two women search for the remains of their loved ones, killed in wake of Chile’s 1973 military coup, at a site in the Atacama desert. Photograph by Paula Allen

A new edition of Flowers in the Desert by my friend and colleague Paula Allen is about to be released, with a foreword by Isabel Allende and an essay by this blogger on General Augusto Pinochet’s legacy in Chile. The book has already drawn the attention of Publishers Weekly, which published the following review:

“Who was it that invented that horrible euphemism ‘disappeared’?” Isabel Allende asks in the foreword to this chilling volume of photographs, interviews, and stories released for the first time outside of Chile to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Pinochet coup. Documentary photographer Allen’s haunting images feature the women of Calama, with shovels and bags, searching for the remains of their dead husbands, brothers, fathers, and sons—men whose bodies lay in unmarked mass graves in the desert following brutal executions. “I didn’t believe they had killed my brother because when you don’t have a body, nothing is certain,” says Vicky, one of the women interviewed and photographed. Many of the images show the women on their quest, digging for bones, but the most affecting photo is less literal: an image of women walking through a cemetery, carrying buckets and shovels. For all they’ve lost, these women prevail, and here, they tell their stories. The resulting book—with text in both Spanish and English; an afterword by Ariel Dorfman; and contributions from Patricia Verdugo, Peter Kornbluh, and Mary Helen Spooner—is a stunning record of the fallout from the Pinochet coup that effectively depicts the effects of the horrifying mass killings on the family members left behind.

And Paula Allen’s web site, where you can find more of her photographs:

http://www.paula-allen.com/

2 comments on “Grief in the Atacama Desert

  1. Maria Oliva says:

    Thank you for your great articles. I would like to know how could I change the language in your site, for example if I want to switch from English to Spanish.

    Regards,

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