Many of writer Ariel Dorfman’s works explore power dynamics in a post-colonial world. His latest novel is no exception. “Darwin’s Ghosts” (Seven Stories Press/2018) centers on a man whose life is changed on his 14th birthday when his father takes a Polaroid picture of him. However, in the photo protagonist Fitzroy Foster’s face is not his own. Instead, his face is that of a stranger.
The face appears on his body no matter what kind of camera or developing technique is used, and this sets Fitzroy on a journey to find the identity of the man and why he is haunting him in photographs. His investigation brings to light stories of the kidnapping of indigenous peoples for use in human zoos, and later brings up larger questions about how irredeemable wrongs of the past might be redressed in the present.
Host Frank Stasio talks to Dorfman about his new work and its themes, including American innocence and how the past haunts the present. Dorfman splits his time between Durham, North Carolina, and Chile, where he lived for many years. Dorfman is a professor emeritus of literature at Duke University. He will be at Scuppernong Books in Greensboro on Friday, May 11.