How are you coping at the moment? While nobody is prepared for what we are living through, some have been through similar experiences: the distance of the migrant or of exile is a curse, but allows you to grow. My wife is the keeper of our sanctuary, expeditious and hygienic at the best of times. When we have deliveries, she cleans every orange and doorknob meticulously.
Are you getting out? We recently moved to the same neighbourhood (Durham, North Carolina) as my eldest son, Rodrigo. Last Sunday, we walked together through a forest and, on both of our minds, was a question: will this crisis lead to something better or worse? Realising the people who bring us food, take care of us and heal us are the most neglected in society was a revelation for many, but will this empathy endure when we emerge? There’s always a smattering of intellectual discourse on our walks, but lately the lighter banter has faded.
A special Sunday? On 26 April this year we were supposed to be in Santiago, Chile, to vote in a plebiscite on a new constitution. Of course, that was cancelled. We returned to the US in late February. I find myself in a strange situation: instead of voting on a constitution that will create more democracy, I’m held hostage by a constitution that has allowed Donald Trump – a pathological liar – to become president of this republic despite losing the popular vote.
Sunday nights? Angélica and I lie in bed together, and I read to her. Mostly we revisit the classics: right now it’s Dostoevsky’s The Possessed. The art of writing literature is strange, you are creating spaces of encounter for others who’ll find themselves in the space your words produce, but they are explored in solitude. Reading together is a way of enjoying new experiences with the love of my life, which has an added significance now our world has become so confined.
Ariel Dorfman is a supporter of Artists at Risk’s Covid-19 Emergency Fund