cover image  Turing's Delirium

Turing's Delirium

Edmundo Paz Soldan, , trans. from the Spanish by Lisa Carter. . Houghton Mifflin, $24 (291pp) ISBN 978-0-618-54139-3

The landlocked South American nation of Bolivia, now politically stabilized, has long alternated democratically elected presidents with coup-installed dictators. Those coups provide the backstory for Paz Soldán's propulsive sixth novel (after The Matter of Desire ): the character of the dying president, known only as Montenegro, is drawn from the two reigns of Hugo Banzer Suárez, dictator from 1971 to 1978 and an elected president from 1997 until illness and civil unrest forced his resignation in 2000. In this ultracontemporary thriller, looming revolution is fomented not by a restless right-wing military, but by a tiny clique of cyberterrorists led by genius adolescent hacker Kandinsky, an instinctive though not particularly ideological foe of transnational corporations. Charged with exposing Kandinsky and his incognito cohorts is the secretive state security organization the Black Chamber, established by Montenegro in his dictator days to spy on leftists—and whose mysterious first director, Albert, may well be a figure from Hitler's Third Reich. Paz Soldán's textured novel (winner of Bolivia's National Book Award in 2002) is an engrossing depiction both of his nation's 20th-century political history and of the 21st century's confrontation with accelerating global hegemony and the conundrum (attention, cyberpunk fans) of virtual terror attacks. (July 1)