Having read The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and now this, I feel I know more than I ever really wanted to about the horrors of the Trujillo years in the Dominican Republic.
Both books are excellent. This is a more traditional telling of the story, but Vargas Llosa’s ability to get underneath the surface of his characters and drag you through their versions of the events around the life and death of one of Latin America’s most despicable twentieth century dictators is extraordinary. He allows for humanity in every character he creates, without ever diminishing or undermining the inhumanity of their actions.
Although reasonably complex, the structure of the novel keeps the story flowing, and while there are places where the pace drops, it never drags.
It goes without saying that this is writing by someone who has mastered their craft. In this novel Vargas Llosa chose to give voices to people involved in one of Latin America’s grimmest regimes and those who brought it to an end. I found it quite compelling.