‘Cantoras’ by Carolina De Robertis
We’ve been reflecting on the nature of loneliness and connection lately. What are the ways in which we seek comfort in times of loneliness? Sometimes, we find it in nature, in our interactions with the world around us. Equally impactful, though, are the connections between people. Communities can form around all sorts of things— shared hobbies, like knitting or reading, or important parts of our identity, like queerness.
Carolina De Robertis’ ‘Cantoras’ is about the power of communities and found families. Set in 1970s Uruguay, it is about five women living under a military dictatorship. They all must keep a part of themselves hidden—they are queer, and live in a country where that is an unforgiveable transgression. They escape the oppressive city to the seaside, where they find freedom by the sea and in each other’s company.
What’s striking about ‘Cantoras’ is how important the act of community is to each of these women. In different ways, the friendships and romances that emerge among them helps them find their way in the world. For some of them, this is the first time they have even heard of other women like them. We found this book to be a moving, important story of a forgotten history and a reminder of the power of communities in times of strife.
This November, we’re reading ‘Cantoras’ for the Champaca Book Subscription and Book Club. As a companion book, we’re also reading ‘Embroideries’ by Marjane Satrapi—a hilarious, revealing, and delightful book that brings together stories of several Iranian women, and how they find a safe space with each other to discuss their experiences with sex, love and men. Read these books with us and join us in our book club meetings where we dive deep into the book and discuss what it meant for us. Join here.