cover image Valfierno: The Man Who Stole the Mona Lisa

Valfierno: The Man Who Stole the Mona Lisa

Martin Caparros, , trans. from the Spanish by Jasper Reid. . Atria, $24 (342pp) ISBN 978-0-7432-9793-6

Capers don’t come much ballsier than the heist of the Mona Lisa from the Louvre in 1911, the stranger-than-fiction saga that serves as the frame for this stylistically daring if occasionally dragging novel by Argentinian author Caparrós (Boquita ). Eduardo de Valfierno, the mastermind behind the theft, refuses to be squelched by his squalid beginnings as Bollino, son of an Italian widow toiling as a servant in the Argentine backwater of Rosario. He repeatedly changes himself during his progress up the social ladder, becoming the perfect symbol for a frontier nation in the process of creating itself. And Valfierno just might be shifting shapes yet again during his extended, chronology-scrambling and confusing reminiscences, at least to judge by the discrepancies between his accounts and those of such confederates as inside man Vincenzo Perugia and ascetic art forger Yves Chaudron. This picaresque novel, the author’s eighth, won the Premio Planeta award in 2004. (July)