The rest is silence by Carla Guelfenbein

Source – review copy from portobello

Carla escaped the Pinochet regime and lived in england as an exile with her parents from the mid seventies til late eighties ,on her return to Santiago she worked in advertising end up on ELLE magazine as the art director and editor ,she has written three novels ,this is her first to be translated to english .She is considered in her native Chile one of the most important writers of the 21st century .

Now before I start ,I want to say something ,If you like or loved extremely loud and incredibly close well ,this is the book for you ,I m always saying for every book in english there is an equal or more interesting book in translation .the similarities to ELIC  are this Tommy the main character in this book has lost a parent ,and has also not been told the full story of what happened ,like ELIC  this book is littered with photos and drawings relating to the story,it differs that this is a personal disaster where as ELIC was the aftermath of 9/11 .So book starts when young tommy a 12-year-old records a conversation at a family wedding ,listening back on his MP3 he discovers his mother committed suicide and didn’t die of a sickness as he thought ,he is shocked by this news and decides to find out what happened to her ,meanwhile his father Juan’s current marriage is falling apart ,his stepmother Alma is drawn towards an old flame as she feels Juan is withdrawing into himself for some reason ,so we see all the family drawn in different ways as they stand on the brink of a break up  and Tommy finding out more about what happen to his mother via family and friends  ,also a lot about his father .This is a touching and sad book at times it shows what problems dark secrets can cause in a family .Tommy is a wonderfully written character a typical 12-year-old on the verge of adulthood but still a child in so many ways ,he stumbles at times finding out the full picture of his mother Soledad death .

The elephant is quiet for a second ,then says “Soledad didn’t die of an illness .She committed suicide .”

“Didn’t she have an aneurysm ?”

“That’s what they told everyone to avoid scandal ,but Soledad committed suicide .I know it for a fact ”

I feel a pain in my chest the recorder slips out of my hand and bangs on the ground .Mama got sick when I was three  .she got sick all of a sudden ,they told me ,and the she was gone .

Tommy find out what happened to his mother Soledad .

This shows what happens when a son is left out ,a father thinks more of himself and a step mother has her eye drawn to an old admirer .Katherine Silver has tackled this book with real subtle touches a book like this with extra bits apart from the text is a hard work to translated and she has done this well .May I also say I love the cover from Portobello a very tactile and pretty cover befitting the book .

Do you like books with a child as the main narrator ?

What is your favourite Chilean novel ? 

May 2011


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