Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2016-07-04
- Reviewer: Staff
Javier Mallarino, renowned political cartoonist, has reached the apex of his career. He’s feted at a ceremony with speeches and a commemorative stamp while his estranged wife (whom he loves) watches from the audience. But a film tribute shown during the program triggers something in the memory of another woman in the audience, unraveling several lives as the past is revisited. Mallarino is forced to reexamine, through the eyes of this woman, the very basis of his reputation, an accusation of sexual misconduct he implied in a caricature that destroyed the career of a politician and eventually led to his death. Colombia’s violent past has receded in this Bogotá-set novel; instead the author seeks to distill the nation’s collective experience into universal truths that transcend history. In McLean’s translation, Vásquez’s prose is luminous, the spooling and unspooling of his characters’ thoughts convincing and powerful. One of Vásquez’s greatest conundrums is the confluence of the public and private—how little control the individual has, how easily a life is made or ruined by events or the will of others. (Sept.)