cover image El Principe = The Prince

El Principe = The Prince

Federico Andahazi. Buenos Aires, $12.4 (235pp) ISBN 978-958-614-999-0

Young author and psychologist Andahazi (b. 1963) gained fame when his first novel, El anatomista (The Anatomist, Anchor, 1998) about man's 16th-century ""discovery"" of the clitoris won a prestigious Argentine Fortabat Foundation literary prize in 1996 and was then condemned as pornographic by the award's sponsor, Amalia Lacroze de Fortabat. Her public indignation, naturally, gave Andahazi a far bigger boost than her prize alone could have: The book became an international sensation and is now translated into more than 30 languages. This third novel finds Andahazi reveling in playful absurdity and shredding stylistic conventions. A South American president (who bears a marked resemblance to the former president of Argentina Carlos Menem), his cabinet, and his mute trophy bride, the former prostitute Maria de los Perros Amor, float mysteriously into the sky after a reign of 6,666 days. They leave an unfathomable revenue shortfall and a policy legacy that includes an antipoverty pogram called ""Muerto el perro, muerta la rabia"" (""Killing the Dog Cures Rabies""). When the new president takes office, he immediately settles in for a nap scheduled to last four years. The novel's ragged narrative takes the reader to a mythical Andean cave, where the future leader is raised by frogs, ants, and reptiles, and from there to a ruined film studio where the government-in-hiding finds its peculiar reality melting into cinema. Startling in its wry, savage satire, El principe is, of course, Machiavellian, but it is also strangely Aesopian and very 21st-century. Andahazi's over-the-top burlesque of political excess has found many readers in Latin America who are all too familiar with the sources of his fanciful caricature, and it will click here with fans of edgy fiction. Recommended for all libraries and bookstores. Bruce Jensen, UCLA Graduate Sch. of Latin American Studies and Information Studies