Archive for the ‘South America’ Category

THE PRICE OF ESCAPE by David Unger

Samuel Berkow, at thirty-eight, stands at the crossroads: In 1938, life in Germany is fast becoming dangerous for Jews. At the urging of his concerned uncle, he agrees to leave Hamburg and emigrate to Guatemala, where his cousin is expected to help him settle. In THE PRICE OF ESCAPTE, David Unger explores his hero’s self-conscious and stumbling efforts to put his German existence out of his mind as he prepares for a new one that carries promise but is also full of uncertainty.

September 29, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Latin American/Caribbean, South America, World Lit

KAMCHATKA by Marcelo Figueras

He calls himself “Harry” now, after his new hero, the famous escape artist, Harry Houdini, hoping that one day he, too, will be a successful escape artist. Discovering a book about Houdini, hidden in the room that will now serve as his bedroom, the ten-year-old boy finds a new source of inspiration. Only the day before, and without warning, his family had to leave their comfortable house in Buenos Aires with nothing but the bare essentials. An abandoned country house has to serve as their temporary shelter. Harry already misses school, his friends and his board game Risk. With his routines disrupted, his sense of dislocation is further heightened when papá tells him and his little brother that they all have to take on new names and forget their former ones: it is too dangerous. Set in 1976, against the backdrop of what has become known as Argentina’s “Dirty War,” that left thousands of people as desaparecidos – disappeared without a trace -, Marcelo Figueras takes us on a moving and intricate journey, through hope, devotion and betrayal, through human frailty and strength, through loss and perseverance.

July 11, 2011 · Judi Clark · Comments Closed
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Facing History, Latin American/Caribbean, South America, Translated, World Lit

THE SECRET HISTORY OF COSTAGUANA by Juan Gabriel Vasquez

When Joseph Conrad was working on NOSTROMO in the early 1900s, and setting it in the fictional Latin American country of Costaguana, he found that his first-hand knowledge of the region, based on a couple of brief shore visits a quarter-century earlier, was insufficient. He therefore consulted friends who had spent greater time in northern South America and constructed a setting that is entirely believable, not only in its composite geography but also in its way of life and political turmoil. Now Colombian author Juan Gabriel Vásquez imagines that Conrad might have had one further contact, José Altamirano, born in Colombia but recently arrived in London as an exile from Panama, following the province’s secession from Colombia in the revolution of 1903. Writing now in 1924, the year of Conrad’s death, Altamirano believes that the novelist has stolen his life story and that of his country to make a fiction of his own, utterly obliterating him in the process.

June 18, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , , , ,  · Posted in: Facing History, Latin American/Caribbean, South America, World Lit, y Award Winning Author

THE SLY COMPANY OF PEOPLE WHO CARE by Rahul Bhattacharya

First, a quick background about Indian (specifically Bengali) cinema: The great Indian filmmaker, Satyajit Ray, was from the state of West Bengal and is one of Bengal’s most revered sons and cultural icons. It stands to reason that years after Ray’s death, the incredibly talented Rahul Bhattacharya (a fellow Bengali) would use Ray’s famous bildungsroman, Pather Panchali, as the inspiration for his debut novel.

At its most basic essence, Bhattacharya’s THE SLY COMPANY OF PEOPLE WHO CARE is also a bildungsroman—it traces the growth and coming of age of its protagonist in a country far away from home, Guyana.

May 22, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: 2011 Favorites, Debut Novel, South America, World Lit

A YOUNG MAN’S GUIDE TO LATE CAPITALISM by Peter Mountford

If for nothing else, A YOUNG MAN’S GUIDE TO LATE CAPITALISM will be remembered as a clear-eyed, unsentimental look at money and our complicated relationship with it. The protagonist in Peter Mountford’s debut novel is a young biracial man, Gabriel de Boya, who is on assignment for The Calloway Group, a New York hedge fund. He finds himself in La Paz in Bolivia—where the novel is set—on the eve of the election that would usher in Evo Morales as President.

Gabriel’s assignment is to predict first the outcome of the election, and subsequently its effect on the Bolivian gas industry. Gabriel’s boss in New York, the aggressive Priya Singh, would essentially like to speculate about whether Morales would nationalize the Bolivian gas industry right away, as he promised. To obtain such sensitive information, Gabriel works incognito in the city passing off as a freelance reporter on assignment.

April 12, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Contemporary, Debut Novel, Humorous, Reading Guide, Satire, South America

THE INVISIBLE MOUNTAIN by Carolina de Robertis

THE INVISIBLE MOUNTAIN is a gem of a novel, grounded in actual history, with a dollop of magical realism, a splash of Dickensian coincidence, with some forbidden romance and political intrigue added to the mix.

The novel opens at the turn of the 20th century in a remote Uruguayan village, when a baby is spirited away and then reappears, a year later, unharmed in the branches of a tree. The young one is named Pajarita – translated to little bird – and the narrative, divided into three sections, sequentially focuses on her, her daughter Eva, and her granddaughter Salome.

October 9, 2010 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , , , ,  · Posted in: 2010 Favorites, Debut Novel, Facing History, Latin American/Caribbean, Reading Guide, South America