The Troublesome Offspring of Cardinal Guzman

Louis de Bernieres, Author
Louis de Bernieres, Author William Morrow & Company $25 (363p) ISBN 978-0-688-12583-7
Reviewed on: 04/04/1994
Release date: 04/01/1994
Paperback - 459 pages - 978-0-375-70015-6
Hardcover - 400 pages - 978-0-436-20114-1
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Like its predecessor, The War of Don Emmanuel's Nether Parts , this deftly constructed novel pokes gentle fun at the well-mined genre of magical realism while providing an exuberant portrait of a Latin America in which anything is possible. Set in an imaginary nation reminiscent of Colombia, where the British author once worked, these interconnected tales chronicle the running feud between the Catholic clergy, headed by Cardinal Guzman, and the heretical countryside--in particular Cochadebajo, a free-spirited city serviced by an unfrocked priest and inhabited by a delightfully feisty collection of eccentrics, including a Mexican musicologist seduced by a mischievous set of twins, a former prostitute (in whose popular restaurant men down fiery chicken to prove their machismo) and Dionisio Vivo, the composer and crusading journalist who also figured in Senor Vivo and the Coca Lord . Accompanied by mercenaries, the clergy set out on a crusade that quickly gets out of control and only hardens the resolve of Cochadebajo's citizens to protect themselves. As the novel works to a dramatic climax, readers will join the author in rooting for the life-affirming joyousness of Cochadebajo, which is skillfully contrasted with the Cardinal's evil nature. (Feb.)
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