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Category Archive for 'Uruguay'

In the years between 1973 and 1981, Uruguay was ruled by the rich and powerful – autocrats who used the power of the military to secure their rule and their continuing wealth – while the needs of the rest of the country were ignored.  Uruguayan author Mario Orlando Benedetti, widely regarded as one of the most influential writers in South America, was himself arrested and exiled during this time, and he knew many people who were imprisoned, if not executed.  Using his firsthand knowledge, he published this extraordinary and revelatory book in 1982, in the days immediately following the end of military rule, giving his audience and the rest of the world a vibrant, literary study of the effects of imprisonment on the hearts, minds, and psyches of people like himself, and of those at home who loved them. On the Favorites List for 2019.

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Though many other writers have written novels about various coups in South America, this story is unusual in that its focus is squarely on the foreign service and the role of its representatives. Not a single scene here reflects the tortures, the murders, or the disappearances which are so traumatizing, and none of the major military leaders responsible for these actions are featured here. This approach works well for people in Brazil, Uruguay, Chile (and eventually Argentina), who are well familiar with the events which have often dramatically affected their own lives, though much of the action in this book will be new to many American readers. The movement back and forth in time over the eventual course of over forty years and several countries is sometimes challenging, and the mysterious Max, a lone wolf, is not someone with whom the reader will identify. Ultimately, the author raises philosophical questions: “In the space of a generation, thousands of people…had been imprisoned, tortured, and killed in the name of priorities long since forgotten. Who would answer…[who] would face a camera to publicly lament what had happened, as Robert McNamara had with respect to the horrors caused by the Vietnam War? What had occurred four decades earlier…remained suspended in time…on a planet deprived of memory.” The author hopes to correct that.

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Luisa, a Madrid single mother, written several successful mysteries starring her two detective heroes, psychoanalyst Carmen O’Inns and her partner Isaac Tonnu. Luisa, aged fifty-two and gifted with a “rampant imagination,” has just moved into a new apartment in Madrid with her eleven-year-old daughter Elba, named for the island where Luisa, then aged forty, conceived her while on a “mating trip.” The new apartment will allow Elba to attend the private English High School which Luisa attended as a child. What follows is an unusual variation of metafiction, in which Luisa simultaneously creates her over-the-top novel about the death of a child at a private school, describes the similar death of a child forty years ago when she herself was an eleven-year-old student at her private school, and then relates details about another remarkably similar death of a child at the same private school during the time that her daughter Elba is a student. Three young boys. Three deaths. Three mysteries.

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This short, literary novel explores themes which academicians have discussed for generations–the relationship between reality and language, the belief that creating a library is akin to creating a life, the idea that books can take on a life of their own, and the obsessive collection of books and reverence for them. Creating an allegory of the literary world and its complications, author Carlos Dominguez tells what appears to be a simple story–part mystery, part satire, and part quest.

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