cover image Shooting Down Heaven

Shooting Down Heaven

Jorge Franco, trans. from the Spanish by Andrea Rosenberg. Europa, $18 trade paper (352p) ISBN 978-1-60945-589-7

At the heart of Franco’s uneven latest (after Paradise Travel) is the family of Libardo, a Colombian cartel capo and former associate of Pablo Escobar. The book begins 12 years after Libardo’s disappearance and is primarily narrated by his son, Larry, who has been living in London and has returned to Medellín to give his father a proper burial after his remains were discovered in a mass grave. The book proceeds to tell just how Libardo ended up there and the impact of his disappearance on the family. Franco banks on the long game, scripting his story like a serial telenovela, with digressive subplots including a quasi-romance between Larry and an airline passenger and a heavy dependency on cliffhangers. While it takes a while for these threads to coalesce, patient readers will be rewarded with some rich character development, particularly in Larry’s mother, Fernanda, a former beauty queen and embittered matriarch. While the focus on Fernanda enlivens the book in the latter half, helped no doubt by Rosenberg’s spunky translation, the appearance of vampires, an absurd death by psychedelic-induced mishap, and an eye-rolling Sleepless in Seattle–like ending don’t help. Franco’s entry into the growing pantheon of cartel dramas might look better on TV. (May)