cover image The Wind Traveler

The Wind Traveler

Alonso Cueto, trans. from the Spanish by Frank Wynne and Jessie Mendez Sayer. Univ. of Texas, $19.95 trade paper (224p) ISBN 978-1-4773-1774-7

Peruvian writer Cueto’s staggering U.S. debut completes his Redención trilogy, which explores the years following Peru’s civil war. After a harrowing stint in the army, where he guarded and was ordered to execute prisoners and torture victims who were held for suspicion of involvement in the communist insurgent group the Shining Path, Ángel retires and refuses his pension out of guilt. Now, Ángel lives a lonely, monotonous life in Lima, working as a salesman at a housewares store during the day and wrestling in illegal weekly fights for a promoter named El Gordo, and keeps few friendships aside from an old army pal, Cholo Palacios. One day, a woman named Eliana shows up in the store to buy glasses, and Angel is shocked to recognize her as someone he’d been ordered to execute in Ayacucha. Ángel descends into a frantic downward spiral of guilt and calls on Cholo for help with information about Eliana’s past, then begins following her in hopes of gaining her forgiveness. Ángel is confronted by Señor Huarón, a man claiming to be Eliana’s father, despite Cholo’s report that said her parents were both dead. Later, Ángel gains an opportunity to redeem himself after being caught in a conflict between Eliana and Señor Huarón, who it turns out had enslaved Eliana. Cueto imbues every page and character with the brutal consequences of war in his compulsively readable story of a man’s reckoning with a history of violence. Wynne and Mendez’s splendid translation brings readers an essential work of Peruvian literature. (Oct.)