Louis de Bernières is a masterful writer, which is to say his command of the various crafts of writing--creating character, innovative description, telling a whopping good story--weaves a spell and sucks you into the magic. From the moment Dionisio Vivo and Ramón "Cochinillo" Dario attend to the cravate
corpse deposited in his garden by the coca lords, you become ensconced in the world of Ipasueño, its passions, ironies, and political intrigues, and cease to be aware of the hand of Bernières behind the scenes.
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
From Publishers Weekly
The wild satire and inventive fantasy that marked de Bernieres' first novel, The War of Don Emmanuel's Nether Parts, reverberate through this audacious story of drug trafficking, corruption, love and murder. In an unnamed South American country resembling Colombia, Dionisio Vivo, a fearless philosophy professor who exposes the country's illegal coca trade in a letter-writing campaign to a leading newspaper, miraculously evades repeated assassination attempts. But his best friend, Ramon, a policeman, and his sweetheart, Anica, who is sexually assaulted by the drug baron's goons, do not escape the cocaine cartel's wrath. Dionisio, who converses telepathically with animals and walks everywhere accompanied by two black jaguars, takes his revenge in a series of events by turns ribald, surreal, horrific, uproarious and tragic. The supernatural constantly intrudes on a landscape of cruel poverty, as exemplified by Father Garcia, a levitating priest, and Lazaro, a hermaphroditic leper cured by a sorcerer. Yet de Bernieres, who lives in London, makes us keenly aware of the drug trade's corrosive effects on a society where drive-by murders are commonplace.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.