Friday, July 28, 2017

Juan Gabriel Vásquez - Reputations (Bloomsbury, 2016) ****

Javier Mallarino is a celebrated political cartoonist who survived his criticism of corrupt politicians and the pressure from dictatorship and of the publications he worked for. He meets a young woman, Samanta Leal, who used to be his daughters friend when they were kids. She forces him to think back about an even that happened twenty-five years earlier, during a party at the cartoonist's home.

Juan Gabriel Vásquez weaves the remembering and the present into a fine, subtle and sensitive texture of questioning of his own achievements, the power of the media, the abuse of power, the fragility of life, and the shifting perspectives between being prey or predator.

His style is an interesting mixture of Milan Kundera (the questions, the distant observation of his characters, ...) and Javier Marias (the long sentences, the shifting interior musings, ...) and both trying to come to grips with a reality that is hard to understand and fathom, while at the same time very recognisable and intimate.

A really strong novel, written with a wonderful sense of composition, sensitive characters and wit.

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