Kamachatka by Mareclo Figueras

Source – Frank Wynne the translator of this book .

Translator  – Frank Wynne

Marcelo Figueras is an Argentina writer and film maker born in the early sixties he has written four novels and wrote for various spanish magazines ,This is his first book to be translated into english

The last thing papa said to me ,the last word from his lips ,was “Kamchatka ” .

He kissed me ,his stubble scratching my cheek ,then climbed into the Citroen .The car moved of along the undulating ribbon of road ,a green bubble bobbing into view with every hill,getting smaller and smaller until I couldn’t see it any More .

The open ,what did his father mean !

Right the book ,it is set in seventies just after a coup and the period called the dirty war  ,the book is narrated by a ten-year old boy ,for most of the book called Harry a name chosen by the young boy as his hero is the legendary escape artist Harry Houdini ,as he parts Left wingers are forced to flee their home in Buenos Aires to head to a safe house in the back and beyond of Argentine .the book is divide into parts each relating to a school day ,This book is from Harry’s point of view and a bit like Wil Wheaton says in stand by me the days when you’re the age before you discover girls are the best and this is Harry ,yes there is Danger but Harry is more interest in Tv and drinking Nesquik .he talks about the Midget it took me a couple mentions to realised this was his younger brother a close relationship beautifully portrayed  .Harry compares people he meets to the characters he sees on tv mainly from his favourite show Invaders ,which I vaguely remember seeing as a Kid myself .also the saint which I loved myself as a kid .Childhood is a large chunk of this book ,I would imagine a lot of the likes and worries of Harry are from Marcelo’s own childhood although he is a few years older than Harry when the book is set .Marcelo also is a wonderful visual writer ,bring the  places the family visit along the way to Life so much .This is a refreshing change to other Latin American  books based round coups which on whole have been dark and more political ,here we get a reflection on how these events effect a family ,we ‘ve all heard about people going on the run ,now here is a book that shows it through a child’s eyes. The book has been made into a successful Film in Argentina which was Argentina choice for the foreign Oscar in 2002 .The book was translated by Frank terrible-man Wynne  with real lightness the story flows and sometimes you forget this wasn’t written in English .This is on this years Independent foreign fiction prize long list and hopefully shortlist .so what did his fathers last words mean ? well you’ll have to read the book to find out !!

Have you a favourite Argentina Novel ?

April 2011


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