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Perla Hardcover – Deckle Edge, March 27, 2012


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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Historically based on a recent, dark chapter in Argentina’s history, De Robertis’ latest novel centers on Perla Correa, a university student and daughter of a decorated naval officer in Buenos Aires. Having learned young that her powerfully loving father was on the wrong side of an unpopular regime, Perla, with the knowing confidence of a bright psychology student, has long repressed shame and guilt for the part she must intuit that her father played in displacing the nation’s désaparecidos: thousands who vanished and were never heard from again. In the book’s opening pages, Perla is surprised by a mysterious, dripping-wet intruder who has appeared in her living room without opening a door or dislocating a windowpane, a strange guest who can’t initially speak and asks only for water, which he chews hungrily. As the man discovers where he is and remembers where he has come from, water seeps from his skin, and Perla is drawn to tenderly care for him without, at first, understanding why. Lyrically combining into reality both the fantastic and the horrific, De Robertis weaves a beautiful and plain-faced tale about birth, rebirth, and the responsibility of inheritance from complex, startling history. High-Demand Backstory: The author’s debut novel, The Invisible Mountain (2009), was an international best-seller and an O, The Oprah Magazine 2009 “Terrific Read.” --Annie Bostrom

Review

“This is one of those books that couldn’t be timelier, more beautiful, or more wrenching. One young woman’s journey into the dark heart of Argentina’s Dirty War. De Robertis is an extraordinarily courageous writer who only gets better with every book.” —Junot Díaz, Latina Magazine

“De Robertis brings the best of two cultures to bear in her work, melding the Latin literary tradition of magical realism with a thoroughly modern, politically charged North American sensibility. . . [her] extraordinary gift makes this brave, important book an object of beauty.” —Meredith Maran, Chicago Tribune

“A gripping journey that’s as heart-wrenching as it is healing; a reminder that the Disappeared must not be forgotten. . . . Both the story and prose flow like a glistening Rio de la Plata. . . De Robertis’ writing from beginning to end hypnotizes with poetic, crushing beauty.” —Cindy Wolfe Boynton, Minneapolis Star Tribune
 
“De Robertis holds the reader’s attention with her entrancingly rhythmic and pulsating prose. . . [her] voice is distinctive and her novel vivid and memorable.” —Sam Sacks, The Wall Street Journal

“In an artful blend of beauty and horror, De Robertis has made the disappeared visible once again. With that, she has done them—and us—a great service.” —Marla Southgate, The San Francisco Chronicle
 
“Mesmerizing. . . a moving, poetic novel about the costs of revolution and the evolutionary process that is identity.” —O, The Oprah Magazine

“It’s no exaggeration to say I’ve rarely read a more poetic novel than Carolina De Robertis’ Perla. What makes it doubly impressive is the subject matter that this author takes on. . . De Robertis is a new voice for Latin America, following in the footsteps of Isabel Allende, and dare I say it, Gabriel Garcia Marquez.” —Herta B. Freely, Washington Independent Book Review

“De Robertis skillfully weaves a lyrical voice around her characters that treats victims, perpetrators, and bystanders with the same care and honesty. The result is a powerfully humanizing effort that examines a nation struggling with a very dark, recent past.” —Library Journal (starred review)

“Lyrically combining into reality both the fantastic and the horrific, De Robertis weaves a beautiful and plain-faced tale about birth, rebirth, and the responsibility of inheritance from complex, startling history.” —Annie Bostrom, Booklist (starred review)

“An elegantly written and affecting meditation on life in the wake of atrocity.” —Kirkus Reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; First Edition edition (March 27, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780307599599
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307599599
  • ASIN: 0307599590
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (84 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,120,422 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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45 of 46 people found the following review helpful By HardyBoy64 VINE VOICE on March 4, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
*Possible Spoilers*

There have been many literary manifestations born out of Argentina's Dirty War (1976-82). Liliana Heker's Fin de La Historia, El (B) (Spanish Edition) is an excellent novel about two young women who have to come to grips with their oppossing views of the conflict. Juan Gelman wrote some beautiful poetry memorializing his missing son and daughter-in-law. Laura Restrapo's DEMASIADOS HEROES (Spanish Edition)explores some interesting aspects of the conflict, but ultimately fails as a memorable portrayal.Purgatorio (Spanish Edition) by Tomás Eloy Martínez also explores questions of survival guilt and memory. Elena Cabrejas's novel Algo Habran Hecho (Spanish Edition) is a moving and quite realistic story of the famous missing French nuns. There have also been some questionable novels that use the Dirty War as a historical backdrop but that completely fail in probing the depths of the historical time period and come across as hollow and meaningless (ie. The Unforgivable).
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Jill I. Shtulman TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 2, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
If Perla was a theatrical production, I'd jump to my feet, applaud and shout "brava!" This visceral reaction - that something very special has just been experienced - is precisely how I felt upon closing the last page of this spellbinding book.

Where do I even begin? Perhaps with the title: Perla is a college-aged young woman whose father, a Navy Officer, was on the wrong side of the heinous Argentina Dirty Wars. During those wars, many innocent people simply disappeared; they were drugged and thrown out of airplanes, never to be seen again. At the book's beginning, Perla discovers that one of The Disappeared - a ghost, quite literally - has somehow found his way into her home.

There are plot twists to this coupling, surely, but it is not those twists that make this novel stand out. Ms. De Robertis explores something far more vital: what happens when a person we love has been the instrument of pain and suffering? How do we reconcile his heinous acts with the person who loves and nurtures us? What responsibilities do we have to him, to society in general, and most of all, to ourselves? Or, in Perla's own words, how can one move forward when "the crimes of my father-the crimes of the nation, also, crimes to which I had not given words -settled on me, rode my back drooped my shoulders, stuck to me and refused to wipe away."

Perla is forced into a delicate dance of trying to understand her father, extricate herself, potentially be his salvation as her father demands "absolution or amnesia or, at the very least, for continued love." Her inner journey to claim her place in the world - her very identity - leads to birth and a rebirth and connects her with who she is meant to be and who she will become.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Bronwyn on April 3, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Let me begin by stating that reading this book had the same effect on me as visiting places like ESMA (the oft-mentioned clandestine detention center in the novel) or similar memory sites in Chile (which, like Argentina, also suffered under a bloody military dictatorship), such as Villa Grimaldi. I was left with the same emotions that I carried whenever I visited those places, meaning that oftentimes, while reading this book, I would have to take a break, get something to drink, go walk around, etc., because everything about it was just *too much.*

Let me also say that, until now, no book has ever made me break out in sobs in the middle of reading it.

Anyway, PERLA was positively phenomenal and far exceeded the already very high expectations that I had for it (I was already huge fan of de Robertis' debut THE INVISIBLE MOUNTAIN). When I saw that de Robertis was writing a novel about the desaparecidos (the disappeared) of Argentina, I started counting down the days until its release. The phenomenon of the extreme right-wing Cold War-era dictatorships in the Southern Cone (including the dictatorship in Argentina - the "National Reorganization Process") is a subject I've studied for years and, for the longest time, I've been thirsting for a truly excellent English-language novel about this subject. PERLA is it, and far more.

I won't rehash the plot, because that's what the book blurb is for (I also don't want to give away any spoilers, but if you are in any way familiar with the history of the Dirty War, you'll catch onto what Perla's "secret" is very early into the book). Instead I'll list some of the main things I loved about this book. Firstly, everyone was so real (character-wise).
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