The Dancer Upstairs

Nicholas Shakespeare, Author Nan A. Talese $21.95 (368p) ISBN 978-0-385-48513-5
Taking the recent turmoil in Peru as his starting point, Shakespeare (The Vision of Elena Silves) has written a gripping literary thriller in which a detective's pursuit of a terrorist leader expands into a many-layered tale of politics and love. Traveling in Brazil in search of a story, British journalist John Dyer is flabbergasted when he stumbles on Agustin Rejas, a former police colonel from an unnamed Latin American nation much like Peru. Rejas is the man who captured the infamous Maoist rebel leader known as President Ezequiel, a character patterned after Abimael Guzman, leader of Peru's Shining Path. For years, Ezequiel had terrorized his country with a carefully orchestrated campaign of violence. Dyer plays the role of staggered, awestruck audience to the account of how Rejas stalked and eventually trapped his dangerous adversary. Night after night, Rejas pours out his story to the spellbound Dyer, telling of his own rural upbringing, his troubled marriage to a bourgeois princess and his growing affection for his daughter's ballet teacher, an impetuous, idealistic young woman with her own ideas about the future of their country. Shakespeare crafts his narrative with patience and skill, ratcheting up the tension with excruciating precision. Rejas's chilling tale of murderous 12-year-olds and the everyday menace of life in a nation caught in a deadly struggle between a repressive government and terrorist revolutionaries is riveting. While the character of Dyer never emerges satisfactorily from the role of convenient framing device, Shakespeare more than compensates for this minor shortcoming, delivering an unusually powerful examination of what animates the souls of those who choose-or are forced-to play even small parts upon the stage of history. Film rights to John Malkovich. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 12/02/1996
Release date: 12/01/1996
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-0-385-72107-3
Hardcover - 404 pages - 978-0-7838-8107-2
Open Ebook - 256 pages - 978-1-4070-6354-6
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