Arts & Entertainment

Narrative serves as privileged ambassador of Spanish language, says Santiago Roncagliolo

Astana, Dec 1 (EFE).- Narrative plays a key role as a privileged ambassador of the Spanish language, now a global medium of communication and a bridge linking diverse regions like Central Asia and the West, said Peruvian writer Santiago Roncagliolo during his visit to Kazakhstan.

“I believe that narrative is a privileged ambassador of Spanish, and of any language and culture. In this case, narrative represents a space of 600 million people,” he asserted.

Following the opening of a Spanish literature section at the National Library of Kazakhstan in Astana, the acclaimed novelist and playwright emphasized the significance of narrative as a means of communication between peoples.

According to Roncagliolo, to understand another country one can read about its history, economy, or major events, “but when you read a novel, you feel what people reading in that language feel.”

“You identify with characters that put you in their place, allow you to see the world through their eyes. And that brings you closer to their culture, their territory, their entire universe,” he explained.

Dressed in a traditional Kazakh chapan, a type of ornamented jacket, the writer championed the idea that “Spanish is one of the languages with the greatest global projection.”

“It is the world’s second most spoken native language, spanning territories across three continents (…) In this sense, Spanish has become a language for global communication,” he said.

Therefore, Spanish can play a “very interesting” role in Central Asia, “a little-known area situated right in the middle of a triangle encompassing the West’s great obsessions, even fears: Islam, Russia, China.”

“Central Asia is a bridge to all these things, to everything in the minds of Europe and the USA. And Spanish can in turn build a bridge towards Asia, for better understanding between the West and the rest of the world,” he said.

However, Spanish can also pose a risk to still-thriving pre-Hispanic cultures, as younger generations “prefer learning Spanish over their ancestral culture.”

“The major linguistic challenge in Latin America is to create a robust educational system that promotes bilingualism, so that Spanish is not a threat to native cultures, but a bridge between them and the rest of the world,” he stated.

Commenting on his experiences in Kazakhstan, a country he visited as part of a tour in the region that previously took him to Uzbekistan, he highlighted the Kazakh youth’s interest in writing.

“And I found that to be a very good sign, because if they want to write, it means they read books, and I believe that in our world, where understanding each other is increasingly challenging, where taking another person’s viewpoint is hard, cultivating readers is cultivating people capable of thinking and dialoguing,” he smiled.

For Roncagliolo, “if many of the Kazakh youths are like the ones I met today, this is very good for Kazakhstan, for Central Asia, and for the world.” EFE

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