Abril Rojo is a novel about contemporary violence in Peru, told using noir conventions. There is an undercurrent of humor throughout the story, in spite of its serious and grim subject matter. Its main character, the fiscal distrital adjunto Félix Chacaltana Saldívar, is very unaware of his surroundings, living instead within a shallow bureaucratic formalism of laws and paperwork. Set in March and April 2000, during elections, the novel begins with the discovery of the charred remains of a body. Chacaltana finds unusual resistance from the police to investigate the murder and as he tries, obsessively but simple mindedly, to overcome this obstacle, he ends up drawing the attention of the army. What follows is the discovery of a serial killer at large, with gruesome ritualistic murders that represent decades of unrelenting violence.

Santiago Roncagliolo, the author, received the Premio Alfaguara in 2006 for this novel. However entertaining it is, I found two minor problems with it and a bigger one. There are a few grammatical oddities (for example, on two ocassions an incorrect “de que” is present), which seem to be the editor’s fault; however, these are surprisingly few. There are many liberties taken with the judicial system and the history of violence in Peru, which seems odd given the intention of the story; these are not so easy to spot and are so integral to the narrative that can be considered part of the framing of the tale and be overlooked. The main problem, the one I couldn’t ignore, is the extravagant nature of the serial killer’s actions. They fit well within the noir conventions the story uses. However, these crimes are so brutal that they distract from the actual, real crimes that the novel wants to highlight and condemn. As a result, the framework ends up hindering the impact of what has actually happened, of what the author presumably expects us to notice and care about.

That being said, the story is quite satisfying. The ending was so well executed that one could almost forgive the problem I mentioned. I wasn’t aware of Roncagliolo’s work prior to this novel, and will for sure keep an eye on him. Thanks to Rafael Benjumea for suggesting it.

Advertisements

Like this:

LikeLoading...

Related

This entry was posted on Tuesday, January 16th, 2007 at 6:02 pm and is filed under Novels. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

Would truly love a response to this! I feel that Chacaltana’s character is fantastic; comparable to Saramargo’s bureaucratic fop in ‘El Doble’…very believable. However, I am perplexed, and perhaps my reading skills in castellano are wanting…but how can Chacaltana have all the furniture, mementos, photos etc from his childhood, his omnipresent mother if everything was burned in a fire…i’m confused…this was a big whole in the text for me ….someone put it together…
Puente

A shame Roncagliolo cannibalized “From Hell” by Alan Moore to write this not so good book. It is incredible that even the killer’s motivation is derivative of Mr. Moore’s work.

I thought about this question a while ago, while teaching a topics course. Since one can easily check that $${}|{\mathbb R}|=|{\mathcal P}({\mathbb N})|$$ by a direct construction that does not involve diagonalization, the question can be restated as: Is there a proof of Cantor's theorem that ${}|X|

First of all, note (as Monroe does in his question) that if $\mathbb P,\mathbb Q$ are ccc, then $\mathbb P\times\mathbb Q$ is $\mathfrak c^+$-cc, as an immediate consequence of the Erdős-Rado theorem $(2^{\aleph_0})^+\to(\aleph_1)^2_2$. (This is to say, if $\mathbb P$ and $\mathbb Q$ do not admit uncountable antichains, then any antichain in their product ha […]

The technique of almost disjoint forcing was introduced in MR0289291 (44 #6482). Jensen, R. B.; Solovay, R. M. Some applications of almost disjoint sets. In Mathematical Logic and Foundations of Set Theory (Proc. Internat. Colloq., Jerusalem, 1968), pp. 84–104, North-Holland, Amsterdam, 1970. Fix an almost disjoint family $X=(x_\alpha:\alpha

At the moment most of those decisions come from me, at least for computer science papers (those with a 68 class as primary). The practice of having proceedings and final versions of papers is not exclusive to computer science, but this is where it is most common. I've found more often than not that the journal version is significantly different from the […]

The answer is no in general. For instance, by what is essentially an argument of Sierpiński, if $(X,\Sigma,\nu)$ is a $\sigma$-finite continuous measure space, then no non-null subset of $X$ admits a $\nu\times\nu$-measurable well-ordering. The proof is almost verbatim the one here. It is consistent (assuming large cardinals) that there is an extension of Le […]

R. Solovay proved that the provably $\mathbf\Delta^1_2$ sets are Lebesgue measurable (and have the property of Baire). A set $A$ is provably $\mathbf\Delta^1_2$ iff there is a real $a$, a $\Sigma^1_2$ formula $\phi(x,y)$ and a $\Pi^1_2$ formula $\psi(x,y)$ such that $$A=\{t\mid \phi(t,a)\}=\{t\mid\psi(t,a)\},$$ and $\mathsf{ZFC}$ proves that $\phi$ and $\psi […]

A notion now considered standard of primitive recursive set function is introduced in MR0281602 (43 #7317). Jensen, Ronald B.; Karp, Carol. Primitive recursive set functions. In 1971 Axiomatic Set Thoory (Proc. Sympos. Pure Math., Vol. XIII, Part I, Univ. California, Los Angeles, Calif., 1967) pp. 143–176 Amer. Math. Soc., Providence, R.I. The concept is use […]

The power of a set is its cardinality. (As opposed to its power set, which is something else.) As you noticed in the comments, Kurepa trees are supposed to have countable levels, although just saying that a tree has size and height $\omega_1$ is not enough to conclude this, so the definition you quoted is incomplete as stated. Usually the convention is that […]

The key problem in the absence of the axiom of replacement is that there may be well-ordered sets $S$ that are too large in the sense that they are longer than any ordinal. In that case, the collection of ordinals isomorphic to an initial segment of $S$ would be the class of all ordinals, which is not a set. For example, with $\omega$ denoting as usual the f […]

Would truly love a response to this! I feel that Chacaltana’s character is fantastic; comparable to Saramargo’s bureaucratic fop in ‘El Doble’…very believable. However, I am perplexed, and perhaps my reading skills in castellano are wanting…but how can Chacaltana have all the furniture, mementos, photos etc from his childhood, his omnipresent mother if everything was burned in a fire…i’m confused…this was a big whole in the text for me ….someone put it together…

Puente

A shame Roncagliolo cannibalized “From Hell” by Alan Moore to write this not so good book. It is incredible that even the killer’s motivation is derivative of Mr. Moore’s work.