There is a certain joy and thrill in picking up book from your local bookstore without any pre-hand knowledge of its contents. In the not so distant past, I realized I was relying on reviews and write ups of books before purchasing them. When I picked up Ariel Dorfman’s Feeding on Dreams: Confessions of an Unrepentant Exile, from the Latin America section, all I knew was that it was about author Ariel Dorfman’s exile from his home country of Chile during the Pinochet regime.
After seeing documentaries and reading about the overthrown of Allende and the brutal rule of Pinochet, I was very interested in reading about what happens when one is exiled from their country. Ariel Dorfman fled Chile after the September 11, 1973 coup. If you know nothing about that time in history, this probably isn’t the best book to start with. It’s a very personal look at Dorfman’s own story.
The novel jumps around chronologically in a very interesting way, chronicling his emotional journey. It’s a deeply honest look at Dorfman’s struggles with exile, his continuing work with his political party (even if it is from afar), his response to the horrors occuring in Chile while he was gone, relationships with friends and comrades, and most importantly to me, his various attempts at resettlement in different places, and his attempts at a final return to Chile.
It’s a facisnating read, especially as I have never read a book from the perspective of someone who is exiled. One of my favorite aspects is the beautiful, descriptive writing. After reading a number of journalistic style books, Dorfman’s eloquent writing was a welcomed change of pace. If you’re interested in Latin American politics or a look at living life in exile, I highly recommend this book.