Red April by Santiago Roncagiolo

Source – library

Translator – Edith Grossman

Santiago Roncagiolo is a peruvian writer ,grew up in the city of Arequipa ,his father is well-known political analyst in peru ,which meant he lived for a time growing up in exile .He has lived in Barcelona  since 2000 ,due cleaning jobs at first then spots of writing for papers like El Pais ,red april is his first novel to be translated into English.he has so far written five novels ,and he has one of his books filmed in spain .

Red april is set in the year 2000 in the small town of Ayacucho ,during holy week a serial killer is found to be on the lose ,this is at the time peru is just coming out of an extreme regime and  the terrorist group shining path .This leads to suspicions growing through the town .The government send a man from lima to investigate the crime and find the person committing the crimes .this man Felix gets tangled up and finds people that he is talking to die as the lines between the past and the present blur ,people s connections to the past come to light and he struggles to get to grip with what is happening .He finds the past is still ever-present in people’s thoughts .Also is the shining path still operating even thou the government says it isn’t these are all questions that need answers .

“Felix ,eight years ago ,if I went out they would kill .Not now .The dammm terrorists killed my mother ,they killed my brother ,they took away my sister so the damm solder could kill her afterward .since the president took office ,they haven’t killed me or anybody else in my family .You want me to vote for somebody else ? i don’t understand why ?

Felix faces people’s pasts as he tries to find the truth .

This book isn’t one I would normally choose as I m not huge fan of  thrillerish books but as it was on the Independent foreign fiction shortlist ,I thought I d give it a whirl and as Llhosa was the only over peruvian writer I d read I thought  d like to try one of the younger generation of writers post -latin american boom writers ,I like Santiago’s honesty about his homelands dark recent past and tackle it well using the present and a crime now unconnected to the past as a way to address the distant past .Felix is a great character like the typical outsider he sees thinks different and also has an open mind but he does get involved far to easily ,he has an eye for the ladies and this makes him vulnerable at times ,as he starts his relationship with a young women called Edith that isn’t all she seems at times .The book is gruesome in places as we see the actions that happen during the conflict on both sides the tremendous loss of life and the shattered life’s left behind mothers without children ,children without parents .I was reminded at times of Bolano in the style of writing and the way he use the story to tackle the past .the book was well translated by Edith Grossman as IO would expect she does a lot of latin american literature .

Have you read this book ?

Do you like books that tackle difficult subjects ?

May 2011


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