La Vida Doble

Arturo Fontaine, trans. from the Spanish by Megan McDowell. Yale Univ., $25 ISBN )978-0-300-17669-8
Chilean author and poet Fontaine’s searing examination of the consequences suffered by those who conspired against the Pinochet regime (1974–1990) raises timeless questions about the morality of torture. Fontaine interviewed both torturers and victims, and, combined with extensive documentary material from the era, has created this horrifying tale of duplicity told by Irene to a nameless interviewer. Safe in Stockholm under the assumed name Lorena, riddled with cancer, she looks back on her time as an idealistic participant in left-wing politics, transformed by arrest into a trapped and tortured captive of the state. Irene is stunned—as are we—by the strength she initially finds, in the face of torture and humiliation, to survive and protect her comrades, and Fontaine earns points for revealing these scenes in a nonvoyeuristic manner. But protecting her only daughter, Ana, from threatened violence is the one thing that breaks her, and Irene takes on an entirely different persona–as a free-spirited, Dionysian mistress to one of her captors who conspires with the enemy to take down her former colleagues. Though haunted by her duplicity, she suffers all to keep her daughter safe, leaving the reader to stand in awe of the resiliency of the human spirit. (May)
Reviewed on: 04/15/2013
Release date: 00/00/0000
Open Ebook - 312 pages - 978-0-300-19514-9
Paperback - 302 pages - 978-0-300-20576-3
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