From Publishers Weekly
A Jewish man flees 1938 Germany only to find a new and unexpected nightmare waiting for him in the sweltering heat of Guatemala in Unger's uneven latest (after Life in the Damn Tropics). WWI vet Samuel Berkow flees Hamburg, washes up in the Guatemalan port town of Puerto Barrios, and gets stuck there before he can make his way to the capital, where he'd intended to meet his cousin. Samuel is overwhelmed by the oddities of the local customs and by those who take advantage of foreigners. Unger's sharp prose deftly conveys Samuel's frustrations and confusions as he encounters characters like a troublesome dwarf, a volatile American fruit company manager, a crazed ex-priest, and a friendly telegraph operator who all offer help with one hand but uncertainty with the other. His departure repeatedly stymied, Samuel becomes increasingly desperate until he nonsensically commits a crime that both threatens to ruin him and sets the book on the path toward a disappointing denouement. But Unger does a great job with fish-out-of-water situations, as Samuel's travails—sometimes Kafkaesque, sometimes Laurel and Hardy—nicely pit his timidity against his growing desperation. (May)
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David Unger's tale utterly seduces with its mix of the exotic and the familiar. A man twists and turns, becoming trapped in a place where folks -- with a few vital exceptions -- would as soon kill him as release him from their grasp. The only way out is forward, as it is for us all.Nancy Wigston is a frequent contributor to the Toronto Star.
"Unger does a great job with fish-out-of-water situations, as [protagonist] Samuel's travails--sometimes Kafkaesque, sometimes Laurel and Hardy--nicely pit his timidity against his growing desperation." --Publishers Weekly
Evoking both Kafka and Conrad, Unger's character study of a broken man in a culture broken by a ravenous corporation makes compelling reading. --Booklist
More About the Author
David Unger was bestowed Guatemala's Miguel Angel Asturias National Prize in Literature in 2014 for lifetime achievement--the first author writing exclusively in English to win a major Latin American literature award. He is the author of The Mastermind (Akashic Books, 2015), El precio de la fuga (F y G Editores, Guatemala, November 2013) La Casita (CIDCLI, Mexico, 2012), The Price of Escape (Akashic Books, 2011), Para mi, eres divina (Random House Mondadori, Mexico, 2011), Ni chicha, ni limonada (F & G Editores, Guatemala, 2009; Recorded Books, 2010), Life in the Damn Tropics (Wisconsin University Press, Plaza y Janes (Mexico, 2004), Locus Press (Taiwan, 2007)), and In My Eyes, You Are Beautiful. He has translated sixteen books into English, including the work of Nicanor Parra, Silvia Molina, Elena Garro, Barbara Jacobs, Mario Benedetti, Rigoberta Menchu. La Casita is also available as a download through I-Tunes. He lives in New York City