The Sound of Things Falling
by Juan Gabriel Vasquez, translated from the Spanish by Anne McLean
Penguin, 2013. 270 pgs. Fiction
Lots of things--and people--fall in Juan Gabriel Vasquez's extraordinary new novel about the Colombian drug trade and those who were crushed and ruined by even a tangential relationship to it.
Antonio Yammara is a young law professor in Bogota when he becomes acquainted with Ricardo Laverde, a graying husk of a man who has recently been released from prison. As they play pool together, Ricardo reveals bits of his life: his past as a pilot, the existence of a wife living in the States, whom he hopes will come back home. Though Antonio steadfastly refuses to acknowledge that Ricardo is a friend, he cares enough for him that he tries to pull him back when two black-clad men on a motorcycle race towards them on the street: Ricardo is killed, and Antonio is gravely wounded. When he begins to recover, Antonio relentlessly seeks to understand Ricardo's life as a means for saving his own. The Sound of Things Falling is a book charged with terrible ironies, and is memorably, beautifully well-written. Juan Gabriel Vasquez has almost instantly become a brilliant light in the firmament of Latin American literature, and this book's lyrical, unsettling text should stay with its readers a good long while. Some graphic sex and language.