Monday, August 19, 2013

The Sound of Things Falling

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.


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