Friday, 27 January 2012

Recognizing Gabe: un cuento de hadas

Published in the 16th January 2012 edition of Strange Horizons, Recognizing Gabe is an utterly beautiful story where any attempt at describing it isn't going to do it justice. That's not going to stop us trying though...

It's partway coming of age tale, partway modern fairytale, keeps offering up challenges to standard gender perceptions and shows how it is possible to be accepted for who you are, even if who you are doesn't meet the traditional expectations of those around you.

The titular Gabe was technically born as a girl, but it takes the interference of his godmother, in a scene that's both sweet and done with elegant simplicity, to get the rest of his family to accept him as a boy. And even though it takes a little time, they fully accept him as their son - so much so that there's a lovely scene where Gabriel's father passionately defends Gabe's right to be the kind of boy he is.

It also shows that gender labelling is never an easy thing, as even after Gabriel is accepted fully as a son of the family, his family traditions still challenge him. His love of cooking falls firmly into the accepted female sphere of activity and is considered not a thing a good son should be indulging in, but even that isn't set in stone and the resolution is subtly done.

Where this story really wins out is the telling. Yáñez has a deft touch, saying much with a few well chosen words, and effortlessly weaves a wonderful story that stays with you long after the reading of it. Very highly recommended so remember it when award nomination time comes around.

Strange Horizons is available for free here (and a must-read for the excellent selection of non-fiction they also publish) and more about about Alberto Yáñez can be found on his website here.

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