El Caso Neruda

Roberto Ampuero, Author
Roberto Ampuero, Author Grupo Editorial Norma $22 (336p) ISBN 978-958-45-1189-8
Reviewed on: 08/04/2008
Release date: 08/01/2008
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Best-selling Chilean Ampuero, a creative writing professor at the University of Iowa, is author of several novels, including a series featuring Cayetano Brul\xE9, a Cuban detective living in Chile. In this fifth installment, Brul\xE9 receives a call from terminally ill poet Pablo Neruda. Brul\xE9 is asked to locate in Mexico a Dr. Bracamonte, who, according to Neruda, could save his life from a devastating cancer. But Brul\xE9 discovers that the real motive is Bracamonte's beautiful wife, Neruda's former lover, and her daughter, whom Neruda suspects is his. Brul\xE9's investigation takes him to Mexico, Cuba, Germany, Bolivia, and, in a surprising conclusion, Chile. The novel successfully blends historical facts, including the hours prior to the coup that ended Salvador Allende's government in 1973, with biographical details of Neruda's political relationship with his friend Allende. Fans of Neruda will be particularly intrigued by the sections on Neruda's complex life and love affairs; highly recommended for collections of general Latin American literature.-Rafael Ocasio, Agnes Scott Coll., Decatur, GA El navegante dormido.(The Sleeping Navigator)A resident of Spain for almost a decade, the award-winning Est\xE9vez is considered one of Cuba's leading dramatists and is a critic and short story writer as well. This is the last volume of a narrative trilogy [after Tuyo es el reino (Thine Is the Kingdom) 1997 and Los palacios distantes (Distant Places) 2002] that has been translated into English and a dozen other languages. As in his previous novels, Est\xE9vez here composes a tale rich with complex characters from all walks of life drawn together by poignant emotional bonds. At its heart is the God\xEDnez family, which has gathered in 1977 at a seaside bungalow-built by a ""northerner"" under Batista-to wait out an impending hurricane. The author loosely constructs a meandering epic covering several generations of the family, dividing more than 100 vignettes into four chapters. Flashes of poetic brilliance dust Est\xE9vez's interwoven narratives, multiple eyes of a storm that provoke the characters' memories. Another familiar thread is the implicit law of attraction to el Norte, or the North, as the United States was called, where the narrator, Valeria, now resides. The story ebbs and flows like the omnipresent sea that laps at the God\xEDnez family's bungalow. Because of the complexity of Est\xE9vez's writing style, this novel is recommended for academic libraries with extensive Latin American or Cuban literature collections, as well as bookstores serving a sophisticated clientele.-Sophie Lavoie, Univ. of New Brunswick, Fredericton
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