Monday, April 03, 2006

books of Laura Restrepo and Mario Vargas Llosa

As usual books of Latin American writers accompanied my journey to Chile and Brasil from 24 march to 3 april. I was experiencing the real Latin America while my mind was haunted by the stories, characters and magic of these two favourite authors.

"Leopard in the sun" by Laura Restrepo

This is the story of two families which fight with each other to the fatal end and is typical of the violence and crime which has come to characterise Colombia. The Barragans and Monsalves of the story continue to traumatise the contemporary Colombia. The honour code of the fighters, their passions and weaknesses and the role of women in the family are same like the mafia stories.

This powerful and gripping story and magical realism is what i expected of Laura Restrepo. Her characters in the book are unforgettable: Arcangel the boy treasure of the Barragan family, La Muda the aunt said to be wearing chastity belt, El Lyrico the poet in the midst of Crime, Mendez the lawyer who walks the tight rope advising both the warring familes and Mani Monsalves whose criminal mind is overcome by his love for Alina.

"The way to Paradise" by Mario Vargas Llosa

As in the case of " war of the end of the world" and " Feast of the Goat" this story happens outside Peru. It originates in France and ends in Tahiti. Flora Tristan the illegitimate daughter of a peruvian father carries on a courageous and relentless fight for the rights of workers and women in the post- revolutionary France which was not ready for the new ideas. She was ahead of the times and had to face the wrath of the the church and skepticism of the male dominated society. Flora is like the Joan of Arc with her fierce,fanatic and blind pursuit of her mission undaunted by challenges and obstacles. Flora's brief stay in Peru gives a glimpse of the oligarchy of Lima which was one of the most advanced in latin America at that time.
The other part of the story is about her grandson Paul. He starts of life as a stockbroker, takes up painting as hobby and becomes an artist in the true sense of the term; bohemian, anarchist, poor and reckless. He goes to Tahiti in search of the natural way of life seeking liberation from civilisation and culture. He abandons himself to all kinds of experience without any inhibition or control. Predictably he pays for it with diseases and pain at the end. Like Beethoven composed music even when he became deaf, Paul also had to paint after losing his eye sight.

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