Dionisio, a professor of philosophy, writes a series of letters, published in the prestigious journal La Prensa, castigating the coca trade, and from there the story spins furiously in many directions and subplots. There's the love affair of the century between Dionisio and Anica Moreno, Lazaro's tragic dance with leprosy, and--to the great pleasure of fans of Bernières's previous novel, The War of Don Emmanuel's Nether Parts--further interactions with the magical jaguars and human inhabitants of Cochadebajo de los Gatos. Events take their course in the way of a grand tragicomedy, with the devastation that's expected followed by the irrepressible joy of life that's never expected and Bernières's tongue-in-cheek touch throughout.
It's a delightfully mesmerizing book. Set in a mythical South American country that's a composite of real South American history and Bernières's fertile imagination, and therefore a perfect companion to take on a south-of-the-border vacation, the book is awash in the realities and flavor of South America and the lunacies of Bernières's genius. --Stephanie Gold
This is simply a great book, written by one of my most favourite authors.
Reading it makes me wonder, laugh, cry and just want to read more. Read more
de Bernieres writing style in this novel is unlike that of "Birds Without Wings". I like the intricate storyline and characters in Birds much better. Read morePublished 18 months ago by DLS Jones
The pain and the ability to see beauty are raw. Ranks with the end of Blackadder Goes Forth as a denouncement and celebration of us all.Published 22 months ago by roy elgar
I've read most of DeB's books. This book, compared to the World of Random Novels At Large is great, challenging, fun equally tragic. Read morePublished on September 10, 2009 by Travis Pelt
Magical Realism. Our book club was introduced to this new (for us) peculiarly Latin American literary form when we read Gabriel Garcia Marques's One Hundred Years of Solitude and... Read morePublished on September 10, 2009 by John Petralia
The first sentence of this book wrongly led me to believe that this De Bernieres' book would be radically different from his masterpieces: "Corelli's Mandolin" or "Birds Without... Read morePublished on June 29, 2008 by Miami Bob
I purchased The Troublesome Offspring of Cardenal Guzmán several years ago, not realizing it was part of a trilogy. Read morePublished on May 27, 2008 by Rita Sasso
Having now read all three novels in the South American trilogy, I think Don Vivo is the best. It continues to flesh out the characters so beautifully crafted in the first book... Read morePublished on July 3, 2007 by Reid W. Wyatt
I can't believe I wasted time reading 100+ pages of this book before giving in. The first page should have been warning enough! Read morePublished on January 12, 2006 by KAL8644