cover image The Shadow of What We Were

The Shadow of What We Were

Luis Sepúlveda, trans. from the Spanish by Howard Curtis, Europa, $15 trade paper (144p) ISBN 978-1-60945-002-1

Sepúlveda packs more than three decades of Chilean history into this lean and darkly humorous novel. Three aging revolutionaries—Cacho Salinas, Lolo Garmendia, and Lucho Arancibia—reunite to pull off one final, spectacular heist, gathering in a hideout to await the arrival of the Shadow, a legendary Robin Hood–type anarchist. As the comrades with their graying beards, thinning hair, and chubby physiques wait, they revisit the past and ruminate on losses: after Pinochet's coup, Cacho and Lolo fled to Europe, while Lucho, whose brothers were murdered by the regime, stayed and endured torture that has left him brain damaged. Meanwhile, and unbeknownst to the trio, the Shadow lies dead on the sidewalk, struck down by a freak accident. Although the narrator frequently runs away with the story, trailing off into history lessons, Sepúlveda maintains a high level of suspense as the police investigate the Shadow's death, and Cacho, Lolo, and Lucho decide whether to go through with their plan, turning their collective sorrows into a celebration of the resilience of the human spirit. (Feb.)