cover image My Father’s Ghost Is Climbing in the Rain

My Father’s Ghost Is Climbing in the Rain

Patricio Pron, trans. from the Spanish by Mara Faye Lethem. Knopf, $24 (224p) ISBN 978-0-307-70068-1

Back home in Argentina to attend to his ill father, a young writer discovers the file his father kept on a recent disappearance and probable murder in his hometown. As he goes through the file, the son discovers not only the sordid details of the crime, but also its victim’s connections to Argentina’s Dirty War—during the ’70s when rightist generals disappeared members of the opposition. Although the novel’s second section consists largely of descriptions (repetitive and ungrammatical) of the attack on the hapless Alberto Burdisso, the book is fundamentally about memory and the consequences of its repression. When the writer—a stand-in for the author, whose father’s addenda to the text can be found on Pron’s blog—realizes that his journalist father was actively involved in the politics of that era, he recalls his childhood, filled with lots of hiding and precautions. The more the son learns, the more he remembers, and the resulting novel looks a great deal like the one he imagines his father writing: “Brief, composed of fragments, with holes where my father couldn’t or didn’t want to remember something.” In the face of denial and forgetting, Pron has stitched the experiences of the activists, their survivors, and those who came later into a narrative that ties the individual to collective memory and a family’s history to a nation’s. (May)