Sunday, 5 June 2011

Book Review: Red April by Santiago Roncagliolo

Santiago Roncagliolo's Red April (orig: Abril rojo, translated by Edith Grossman) has been out for a while now, and it's been on my reading list for some time as well. I finally got around to ordering it and then devoured it in three days, putting aside my other reading to do so - which is pretty much a recommendation in itself.

The book is both a whodunit and an investigation into the darkest side of Peru's recent history, caught between the violence of the Shining Path and the violence of those sent to fight them. The descriptions of Ayacucho are recognisable to anyone who has been there, even those who have only visited briefly, as I did. It's set in the period leading up to Easter in 2000, when the terrorists have supposedly been defeated and tourists need to be encouraged to return, but it soon becomes very clear that the "peace" masks continuing atrocities and deep trauma.

Assistant District Prosecutor FĂ©lix Chacaltana is happiest behind his desk, writing well-punctuated reports which nobody reads, but he becomes drawn into tracking down a serial killer and also turns out to have a dark side of his own. Chacaltana is sensitively drawn and provides both comic relief and some of the book's most challenging moments.

This book keeps the pages turning and the reader guessing until the very end. Highly recommended.

See also:
'Red April' wins the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize (Independent)
Red April by Santiago Roncagliolo (Guardian)

1 comment:

Lauren said...

I loved this book too! I hope your review inspires others to read it as well.