Eduardo Halfon is the author of fourteen books of fiction published in Spanish. His latest, Mourning, published in English by Bellevue Literary Press in 2018, received the Edward Lewis Wallant Award (US), the Prix du Meilleur Livre Étranger (France), and the Premio de las Librerías de Navarra (Spain). In 2018, he was awarded the Guatemalan National Prize in Literature, his country’s highest literary honor. He currently lives in Paris and holds a fellowship from Columbia University. (August 2019)

NYR DAILY

El Lago

A boy playing near Lake Atitlán, in the highlands of Sierra Madre, Guatemala, 1975

We called it El Lago. The Lake. As kids, growing up in the Guatemala of the 1970s, we spent most weekends and holidays of my childhood there, jumping off the wooden dock, learning to swim in the icy blue water. One early morning, we all woke up to find two indigenous men floating face down by the wooden dock. They were naked and bloated. Guerrilleros, my father said, his tone far from compassionate or even sympathetic. Guerrilla fighters, probably from one of the surrounding villages. I was still too young to understand that the military used to dispose of some of their enemies there, dumping the dead and tortured bodies into the water. A few weeks later, my grandparents sold the chalet.