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The Dancer and the Thief: A Novel Paperback – February 2, 2009

4.2 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Skármeta (The Postman) conjures in his impressive sixth book a contemporary Santiago, Chile, where the memory of Pinochet's reign and the disappearing of citizens still looms. Presidential amnesty has granted freedom to some nonviolent criminals, releasing 20-year-old Ángel Santiago, a passionate young man imprisoned for impulsively stealing a wealthy rancher's horse, and 60-year-old Nico Vergara Grey, a gentleman-thief who has repented his life of crime. Ángel plans a grand heist and some payback, butut Ángel's heist is dependent on Nico, who wants only to be taken back by his estranged wife and son. Looming in the background is the warden who allowed inmates to rape and torture Ángel. Fearing (correctly) that Ángel will want revenge, the warden hires an assassin to kill him. Intertwined is Ángel's meeting with Victoria Ponce, a ballet student who wants to compose a dance to commemorate her dead father, a resistance member murdered by Pinochet's goons. Ángel helps Victoria move toward realizing her dream, and Nico eventually agrees to help with the heist, but with the assassin on his trail, Ángel may not be so lucky. Surprising jolts of humor flash throughout this powerful, humane novel. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* After the fall of Pinochet’s dictatorship, the government grants amnesty to certain nonviolent criminals to ease the burgeoning prison populace. Returning to Santiago after his release from prison, the youthful thief Ángel Santiago seeks out the notorious criminal Nicolás Vergara Gray with plans for an ambitious heist. Vergara Gray has vowed to live a law-abiding life while mending his relationship with his estranged wife and son. Unfortunately, Vergara Gray is bankrupt, and Santiago’s persistence, along with the presence of his poetic dancer and girlfriend, Victoria Ponce, draws these three characters fatefully together. As in his earlier novel The Postman (inspiring the 1994 film Il Postino), Skármeta layers Chile’s rich history and literature between a sexy, seedy, and complex story line. He pays homage to his favorite Chilean literary figures, nodding to Pablo Neruda and interpreting the poet Gabriela Mistral through a renegade dance performance by Ponce. Santiago and Vergara Grey may be criminals, Skármeta shows us, but they are hardly philistines; rather, they are supreme lovers of art and appreciators of beauty—qualities that are much in evidence in this fine mix of literary and crime fiction. --Heather Paulson --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (February 2, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393333671
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393333671
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,080,007 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This book follows the tradition of magical realism that so successfully portrays live in South and Central America. Both the characters and the plot held my attention to the end. Life in Santiago comes through as the characters attempt to better their circumstances. The time honored plot of an older man helping a younger man obtain the love of his live is executed very well.
It was not one of my favorite books, but I enjoyed every minute that I was reading it.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is a lively, fun and adventurous tale, which though purportedly fictional, I found entirely believable and thoroughly engrossing. Some might find it geared toward a somewhat adolescent audience in the sense that its plot is a surface drama for the greatest part and doesn't probe the intellect or psychology of its characters deeply, or otherwise weigh in on more "serious" matters, but the sympathetically painted characters were brought very much to life and I found myself wanting to head to South America in search of Victoria Ponce to make her mine by the end of the book(I exercised some restraint earlier on in my reading in light of her attachment to another).

A book for the senses more than the mind, though no less skillful the writing of it. No great issues of weighty philosophical importance here, but real people with real situations, plans, adventures and problems, set in the quasi-criminal milieu of modern day Chile, all of which I found highly engaging. Skarmeta's skillful writing creates full characters rather than stick figures, his characters coming to life so that one feels for them as if one knows them, or could know them, amongst the people one sees every day. All in all, an exciting, fun and adventurous tale that makes it hard to set aside once one begins reading it. Well worth reading, particularly if you have a long hard couple days of lying on the beach punctuated with interruptions of sex, sea and more sun to accompany it.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
An intoxicating story of personal triumph against all odds. Set against a backdrop of a nation that likewise rebuilding and redefining itself in the same manner. Amazing read, intrancing, highly recommended.
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By AJ on March 29, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Read this for my book club, and everyone seemed to enjoy it, and it gave us a fair amount of material for our discussion. The main characters are complex and likeable, and the plot is fairly well paced. The author and translator do a great job of capturing the cultural feel of Chile. I won't spoil the ending, but some were not satisfied with it.
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