Sultry Moon

Mempo Giardinelli, Author, Patricia J. Duncan, Translator Latin American Literary Review Press $13.95 (112p) ISBN 978-0-935480-92-4
A bestseller in Argentina where it was published in 1983, this feverish novella made Giardinelli the first foreign author to win Mexico's National Book Award. The story, about a man who commits a heinous crime and spirals into a series of rationalizations, owes much to Dostoyevski and Camus. At 32, Ramiro Bernardez returns to his small Argentine hometown after eight years of studies in Paris, expecting to embark upon a brilliant career as a law professor. Instead, within the span of a few hours when the moon is full, he becomes a rapist, murderer and fugitive. Giardinelli explores how Ramiro's transgressions exacerbate his difficulty distinguishing reality from mere perception. Arrogant and even proud of his actions, Ramiro manages, for a while, to evade being charged with the crime even as he's increasingly tortured by fear and a nagging sense of guilt. Into this classically existentialist tale of the crime (and punishment) of a man who is a psychological stranger to himself, Giardinelli works a gracefully inconspicuous allegory of the political climate in Argentina during the 1970s. Ramiro is no different from the government of the time, which abused its power, made excuses for its actions and pretended other crimes never happened. It's a shame that American readers have had to wait so long to see such an important Latin American novel, and thanks are due the publisher for bringing it to us at long last. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 12/29/1997
Release date: 01/01/1998
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