Sunday, May 26, 2013

Three classic books on Colombia

At the Guardian, Pushpinder Khaneka named three of the best books on Colombia. One title on the list:
Delirium, by Laura Restrepo

Restrepo sets her novel in the drug-fuelled 1980s heyday of cocaine king Pablo Escobar, and uses insanity in one family to reflect the collective insanity of her native Colombia. Aguilar, a grizzled, leftwing literature professor who is reduced to selling dog food to make ends meet, returns from a business trip to find that his beautiful wife, Agustina, has gone mad. In his search for the causes of her delirium, he uncovers secrets and lies from her troubled past.

This complex and captivating novel uses the voices of Agustina, her husband, her father and a former lover – Midas McAlister, a flamboyant money-launderer and drug trafficker – to give an account of a Colombia in thrall to narco-capitalism and battered by violence and corruption. The story mostly takes place in the capital, Bogotá, which Aguilar describes as a city "where everyone's at war with everyone else".

Restrepo has a sharp eye for exposing the hypocrisies and class divisions that dog Colombian society, and memorably depicts the period's excesses. Yet, through this morass, the novel remarkably ends on a note that is, if not quite happy, at least hopeful.
Read about the other books on the list.

Also see: Top ten Colombian stories.

--Marshal Zeringue