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.

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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.
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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.

The only reference I know for precisely these matters is the handbook chapter MR2768702. Koellner, Peter; Woodin, W. Hugh. Large cardinals from determinacy. In Handbook of set theory. Vols. 1, 2, 3, 1951–2119, Springer, Dordrecht, 2010. (Particularly, section 7.) For closely related topics, see also the work of Yong Cheng (and of Cheng and Schindler) on Harr […]

As other answers point out, yes, one needs choice. The popular/natural examples of models of ZF+DC where all sets of reals are measurable are models of determinacy, and Solovay's model. They are related in deep ways, actually, through large cardinals. (Under enough large cardinals, $L({\mathbb R})$ of $V$ is a model of determinacy and (something stronge […]

Throughout the question, we only consider primes of the form $3k+1$. A reference for cubic reciprocity is Ireland & Rosen's A Classical Introduction to Modern Number Theory. How can I count the relative density of those $p$ (of the form $3k+1$) such that the equation $2=3x^3$ has no solutions modulo $p$? Really, even pointers on how to say anything […]

(1) Patrick Dehornoy gave a nice talk at the Séminaire Bourbaki explaining Hugh Woodin's approach. It omits many technical details, so you may want to look at it before looking again at the Notices papers. I think looking at those slides and then at the Notices articles gives a reasonable picture of what the approach is and what kind of problems remain […]

It is not possible to provide an explicit expression for a non-linear solution. The reason is that (it is a folklore result that) an additive $f:{\mathbb R}\to{\mathbb R}$ is linear iff it is measurable. (This result can be found in a variety of places, it is a standard exercise in measure theory books. As of this writing, there is a short proof here (Intern […]

Very briefly: Yes, there are several programs being developed that can be understood as pursuing new axioms for set theory. For the question itself of whether pursuing new axioms is a reasonably line of inquiry, see the following (in particular, the paper by John Steel): MR1814122 (2002a:03007). Feferman, Solomon; Friedman, Harvey M.; Maddy, Penelope; Steel, […]

This is a very interesting question and the subject of current research in set theory. There are, however, some caveats. Say that a set of reals is $\aleph_1$-dense if and only if it meets each interval in exactly $\aleph_1$-many points. It is easy to see that such sets exist, have size $\aleph_1$, and in fact, if $A$ is $\aleph_1$-dense, then between any tw […]

Say that the triangle is $ABC$. The vector giving the median from $A$ to $BC$ is $(AC+AB)/2$. Similarly, the one from $B$ to $AC$ is $(BA+BC)/2$, and the one from $C$ to $BA$ is $(CB+CA)/2$. Adding these, we get zero since $CB=-BC$, etc.

The usual definition of a series of nonnegative terms is as the supremum of the sums over finite subsets of the index set, $$\sum_{i\in I} x_i=\sup\biggl\{\sum_{j\in J}x_j:J\subseteq I\mbox{ is finite}\biggr\}.$$ (Note this definition does not quite work in general for series of positive and negative terms.) The point then is that is $a< x

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.