Purgatory

Tomás Eloy Martínez, trans. from the Spanish by Frank Wynne. Bloomsbury, $15 trade paper (288p) ISBN 978-1-60819-711-8
In this haunting and surreal depiction of the military dictatorship that gripped Argentina in the late 1970s after the death of Juan Peron, Martínez (1934–2010) explores the devastation of those left behind when their loved ones “disappeared” in the Dirty War. The story is told through the lens of cartographer Emilia Dupuy, the daughter of a high-ranking adviser during the military junta. Now 60 years old and living in New Jersey, Emilia one day sees her husband, Simón, who she was sure “had been dead thirty years” at the hands of military officials (and, she suspects, on the orders of her father). Simón looks exactly as he did 30 years earlier, “had not aged a day,” and still loves Emilia. She takes him back to her apartment where they reconnect, and then she goes away with him, alarming her friends. Told from the perspective of a New Jersey writer and professor to whom Emilia has told her tale, the novel weaves Emilia’s life without Simón together with the week of their beguiling reunion. Martínez (The Tango Singer) questions the ideas of identity, geography, existence, and reality with fluid prose and finely detailed imagery that throws into relief the brutality and fear of this dark era. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 09/12/2011
Release date: 11/01/2011
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