In this dramatic and thought-provoking novel, Edmundo Paz Soldan, a Bolivian writer, displays his enormous gifts of both narrative and character development while also examining serious themes and social and psychological problems. Creating three characters from three different time periods, all of whom are native to Mexico or South America and all of whom are in the US for various reasons and for various periods of time, Paz Soldan explores their lives and creates comparisons and contrasts before making connections among them. Jesus, a young man from Northern Mexico in 1984, is a boy/man who responds impulsively to situations as they arise in his life and does not hesitate to be violent. In contrast to Jesus, Michelle, a graduate student in South Texas who appears as the second main character, is working hard to establish herself as a writer/cartoonist working on a comic book about a librarian with special powers who is bent on revenge. The third main character is Martin Ramirez, living illegally in Stockton, California, in 1931, trying to pay off some debts and help his family back in Mexico by working as a migrant worker. Paz Soldan rotates the action through these three characters’ lives, developing themes as he goes, and the reader cannot help but become involved both in the action of their lives and in the psychological crises they face. All are dealing with issues of identity and a sense of belonging/ . One becomes a killer. Throughout the novel, the author shows the inner conflicts of people who are from one country but live in another, exploring their personal predicaments, their sense of displacement or their sense of hope.
Category Archive for 'Bolivia'
The twenty-four hour train ride from La Paz, Bolivia, to Arica, Chile, through the Andes at an altitude of up to 16,000 feet, from which the railway descends to the sea, provides the “closed room” setting for a murder which takes place in 1952, somewhat akin to Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express (1934). The key difference, however, is that the passengers on the Andean Express are, for the most part, local people traveling for a variety of reasons, and not wealthy Europeans traveling for pleasure. Their issues and resentments are local, based on their long histories with the victim, a man so loathsome that few can find anything positive to say about him. “Killing Alderete would not be murder; it would be a settling of accounts,” one remarks.
Though Mario Alvarez, in Juan de Recacoechea’s novel American Visa, likes to think of himself as a hero created by one of the great writers of hard-boiled crime stories, he recognizes that, in reality, he is something of a romantic, “a lover of the impossible, a dreamer who never can choose his dream, an incomplete man.” He has come from Oruro to La Paz, Bolivia, to get a tourist visa for the United States, and he has only enough money for a week’s stay at the Hotel California, a seedy hotel in which his room is like “a cell for a Trappist monk.” Learning from an acquaintance that the owner of a travel agency can speed up the visa process for $800, since the agent knows people who work in the visa business, Mario is determined that somehow he will find the money to ensure that he gets his visa. The reader learns Mario’s family history and follows him as he wanders La Paz, a city which has changed dramatically in recent years with the arrival of half a million peasants, many of them Indian. “Local color” in this novel is dark and filled with misery, and as the action evolves and incorporates all levels of society, the sense of dramatic irony increases.
Pedro Zabalaga, with a freshly minted PhD from Cal Berkeley, is a professor of Latin American Studies at the University of Madison (New York), a young man much in demand by American magazines as a commentator on the political situation in South America, and Bolivia, in particular. Pedro is the son of Bolivian hero Pedro Reissig, one of six men massacred by the army as their socialist cell was meeting to plan the overthrow of President Montenegro. Reissig died in the 1970s, when his son was still a small child, and the only legacy young Pedro has is a book his father has written entitled Berkeley. This he regards as “a long letter from Dad to me. By discovering the message he had hidden in the book, I would discover him…” The tight construction, despite the constant changes in time and setting from Rio Fugitivo to Madison, NY, and Berkeley, along with the consistent thematic development, make this a novel which conveys a message without sacrificing the literary qualities which make good mystery novels and their characters come alive.
Dense with ideas and complex in its plots, Turing’s Delirium confronts the issues of globalization and the conflicts generated by a perpetual underclass. Within a thriller set in Rio Fugitivo, Bolovia, author Edmundo Paz Soldan, described by Mario Vargas Llosa as “one of the most important Latin American writers of the new generation,” brings social unrest to life in this Third World country. Though young intellectuals have always relied on strikes, demonstrations, and indigenous riots by miners, coca growers, and other laborers to emphasize their grievances—and do so in this novel, too—they now have a new weapon, the computer. Now it is possible for the resistance and revolution to be conducted in cyberspace, and hackers are the front line in the waging of the new war.