Odyssey to the North

Mario Bencastro, Author, Susan Giersbach Rascon, Translator Arte Publico Press $12.95 (193p) ISBN 978-1-55885-256-3
The even-tempered prose of this quietly resolute political novel gives voice to a generation of Central American immigrants. The Salvadoran protagonist, Calixto, flees his native country, where he faces imprisonment for alleged treason. The dangerous journey north toward Washington, D.C., which provides the novel's dramatic tension, emerges through a series of interpolated flashbacks. Through an artful collage of the conversations between Calixto and his friends, news reports, courtroom transcripts, love letters and anecdotes, Bencastro (The Tree of Life: Stories of Civil War) documents the hardships Calixto suffers upon arriving in the promised land--and finding it rampantly racist. Unpretentious and reportorial, Bencastro's tone is welcomely understated--and his message all the more powerful for it. (Dec.) FYI: Bencastro's earlier novels have been finalists in both the Novedades y Diana International Literary Prize competition and the Felipe Trigo Literary Prize competition.
Reviewed on: 12/29/1997
Release date: 01/01/1998
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