Louis de Bernières's sardonic pen has concocted a spicy olla podrida of a novel, set in a fictitious Latin American country, with all the tragedy, ribaldry, and humor Bernières can muster from a debauched military, a clueless oligarchy, and an unconventional band of guerrillas. There's a plague of laughing, a flood of magical cats, and a torture-happy colonel. The cities, villages, politics, and discourse are an inspired amalgam of Latin Americana, but the comedy, horror, adventure, and vibrant individuals are pure de Bernières. This masterpiece, the first of a trilogy, is followed by Señor Vivo and the Coca Lord
, and The Troublesome Offspring of Cardinal Guzman
From Publishers Weekly
A blend of scathing political satire and magic realism, De Bernieres's furiously sardonic, intensely lyrical first novel portrays an imaginary, impoverished Latin American country run by an oligarchy, terrorized by fascist army officers and propped up by U.S. support while Yanqui corporations suck its economy dry. No better than the rapacious and murderous military, the revolutionaries loot and kill in the name of an abstract ideal. The motley cast includes Dona Costanza Evans, an upper-class housewife kidnapped by guerrillas, who actively joins the revolution; Olaf Olsen, a Norwegian industrialist whose innocent daughter becomes one of the "disappeared"; Aurelio, a jungle Indian versed in magic, and Don Emmanuel, oddball son of a progressive English educator. About halfway through, friendly, charming cats, which grow to the size of pumas, invade the narrative and do magical things that confound even fascist generals. De Bernieres, who taught in Colombia, captures the beauty, hope and desperation of Latin America as few other writers have done.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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