Latam Booklook: 'Tropical Virus' by Power Paola

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In the framework of  FILBo 2019, the film Tropical Virus was screened, which recently won the Quirino Animation Award. Today, we remember the graphic novel on which it is based

Latam Booklook: 'Tropical Virus' by Power Paola

What is it about?

Tropical Virus is a graphic novel written and drawn by the illustrator Power Paola and published in 2011. Before being a book, Tropical Virus was a blog that Power Paola wrote during her stay in Buenos Aires. The book is an autobiography where she tells us some of her experiences from her childhood, going on to her adolescence and reaching her life as a young adult, always with a focus on going back and forth between Ecuador and Colombia.

Leer en español: Latam Booklook: 'Virus Tropical' de Power Paola

From illustrations in duo-tone with simple lines (without this being pejorative) and with vignettes that are shorter than normal (and that sometimes stop being because they are not necessary), a narrative line is created that has as its purpose show what it is like to live and grow in the 80s in two peripheral cities, Quito and Cali, which, despite being both Latin American, are totally different and interact with those who inhabit them in different ways.


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Along with the growth is the relationship and dynamics that the author has with her family and how the decisions made by each member of her family, however independent, will end up affecting the rest in one way or another.

The book is divided into three sections indicated by the change of color. Each section has some subsections that work as luck of chapters. In the first section, Paola's childhood and relationship with her family are presented as she is the youngest daughter that no one, not even the doctors, expected. The second section deals with the relationship that she has with the women of her life, from her mother and her older sisters to the service employee who works for them, all in different stages so they constantly collapse. The third section is already an entrance to her adolescence and then youth, an encounter with herself and with what she had already lived at some time her sisters.

From the management of space and ilsutraciones we are showing this growth and at the same time the reality of two Latin American countries, border and two Latin American cities and marked by their nature of periphery and tropic.

Who wrote it?

Paola Andrea Gaviria Silguero, better known as Power Paola, is a colombian-ecuadorian author. She was born in 1977 in Quito Ecuador and lived there until she was 13 years old, when her family moved to Cali, Colombia. She studied in Medellin at the University Foundation of Fine Arts and is a sculptor and illustrator. She has come and gone throughout the world, she lived in Sydeney, Paris, San Salvador, Bogotá, and currently lives in Buenos Aires.

Read also: Latam Booklook: "The brief wondrous life of Oscar Wao" by Junot Díaz

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Her first published book was Tropical Virus and was translated into English and French. Since then, she has published four other graphic novels: Por dentro (2012), Diario (2013), qp (2014), and Todo esta a bien (2015). On the other hand, she has been awarded the artistic residence of La Cité Internationale des Arts, the Gilberto Alzate Avendaño Scholarship, among others.

Do I read it or not?

I recommend reading Tropical Virus because it plays with a simple language and illustrations with lines that are also simple but somewhat abrupt, which not only makes the view a bit uncomfortable, but also generates a feeling of estrangement. In addition, as she tells her own life is in a very honest way, without taboos and seems without fear to show herself as she was (because if there is something that we are clear is that there is a constant transformation) and without that self-victimization that usually have in the autobigraphic.

Not only do I recommend reading this book, but to get closer to the complete work of Power Paola, she is one of the creators who cannot be seen. I also recommend watching the animated film based on the book, directed by Santiago Caicedo, which in April of this year won the Pemio Quirino for Best Animation Feature Film.


LatinAmerican Post | Vanesa López Romero

Translated from "LatamBook Look: 'Virus Tropical' de Power Paola"