Necropolis by Santiago Gamboa
Original title Necropolis
Translator Howard Curtis
Source Review Copy
Well I had a load of long and complex novels last year but two I had left to mull over in my mind before reviewing .This was one the other being Laszlo Krasznahokai ‘s Satantango .So Santiago Gamboa is considered one of the rising stars of Latin American literature .He studied literature at Bogotá university before moving to Europe and settling in Paris where he furthered his studies studying Cuban literature .He published his first novel in 1995 aged 30 ,this Necropolis is his seventh novel and his first to be translated into English .The book won the Premio La Otra Orilla award .
Dear writer ,in view of your work ,we have the pleasure of inviting you to the international congress on biography and memory (ICBM),to be held in the city of Jerusalem from 18 – 25 may
part of the invite that starts and is the framing device for the story .
So Necropolis is a novel is about an unnamed Columbian writer,who has been struggling for a couple of years with his craft of writing and illness .But he is very intrigued when he receives a very strange offer from the ICBM (International Congress on Biography and Memory ),Now at first he wonders why but it seems legitimate so he says he will attend ,even thou he hasn’t in his mind written anything overtly biographical .So he sets off from his base in Rome to the conference which happens to be in Jerusalem.So he receives a copy from the ICBM OF attendees at the conferences and it is far to say apart from one man who also comes from Columbia like the writer these people have little in common .So we go to the conference and we see the first speaker talk this is mixed with our narrator as he meets his fellow delegates and listens to the talk by Jose Maturana ,this is about a church he became involved in and the collapse of this cult like church and how the main man one Walter De la salle disappeared .Next think is this guy turns up dead and we have what maybe a murder or a suicide ? then the action moves away from this to the other people and there stories at the conference an Italian porn star ,a businessman who has been trying to deals with the Farc ,( a terrorist group in Columbia ) and a pastor each of these stories we hear are about fifty pages long finally we return to find out what happen to Jose and was it murder ?
The life story I am about to relate is a harsh and sometimes even macabre one, so I hope there are no young people in the room ,There are situations that the inexperienced or the innocent may find disturbing .I’m not sure on the conferences policy on this ,and I shall certainly go ahead and tell my story anyway .But it might be a good idea to check at the entrance that all members of audience are of legal age just for today .
Sabina telling her story to the conferences
Well that is brief description of this.It is very hard to grasp without getting to in-depth with the story or stories .This book has a feel of ambition about it and scope .The book is set up really as a collection of stories and a murder story ,it has a feel rather like those classic tales of literature .In a number of reviews I saw The Decameron is mentioned as one such collection ,but I felt Canterbury tales could also work as the book is set round the conference it is a framing device like the trip the pilgrims took, these people have been drawn together at the king David hotel too essentially tell their stories .The tales we are told by the delegates are about love ,sex ,good and evil . Ambitious as you can tell ,it works and one feels the could be a number of other stories come from this one book in the future . Santiago Gamboa has assumed the mantel of writers like Marquez and Bolano .
Have you read this book ?
Do you have a favourite latin american work of fiction ?