On a certain level, "Purgatory" is a metaphorical ghost story—a meditation on loss, invisibility, and vanishing. On a certain level, Purgatory is a metaphorical ghost story—a meditation on loss, invisibility, and vanishing. What was real and what was imagined? What was true and what was a lie? In the buildup to its hosting of the World Cup, the military junta wanted the world to believe it was a free and democratic nation, under assault from within by a small band of communist militants.
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Emilia Dupuy's husband vanished in the s, while the two were mapping an Argentine country road. All evidence seemed t. All evidence seemed to confirm that he was among the thousands disappeared by the military regime. Yet Emilia never stopped believing that the disappeared man would reappear. And then he does, in New Jersey.
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Feb 16, Blair rated it really liked it Shelves: s-release , past-and-present , read-on-kindle , translated. Is he a ghost, somehow real, or is Emilia, who has never given up on the hope that her husband is still alive, finally succumbing to madness? It's an irresistibly strange starting point, and I couldn't help being drawn in - but the story went in directions I couldn't have expected.
I decided to read this on a whim - largely, I'll admit, because the premise and opening called to mind one of my favourite novelists, Paul Auster.
I wasn't too far off the mark there: there are clear similarities to Auster in both plot and style. In the second chapter, a new, first-person perspective is introduced. But who is this unnamed narrator who studies Emilia so closely?
As the narrative unfolds, though the new voice fails to identify himself, it becomes clear that we are listening to the thoughts of A sense of ambiguity is retained - it's never wholly clear whether Emilia is a real person whom the author has chosen to write about, or simply a figment of his imagination - but his presence in the story adds another level of interest to the plot, inviting the reader to constantly question what they are being told.
I very much enjoyed this book as a work of fiction: but it also made me think a lot about the facts upon which it is based. This is an effective and emotive way to tell the story of Argentina's 'disappeared', and it opened my mind to a period of history I previously knew little about. Aug 23, Stacia rated it liked it Shelves: challenge-south-american-writers , , latin-america. This book, chillingly, doesn't feel untimely. It's a little too close to home in regards to a government leaning toward nationalism, fascism, gaslighting, etc.
The book deals with the reality, the unreality, the dreams hoped for, crushed, never lost , the almost-unimaginable life around Argentina's Dirty War. There is a magical element here, but not really magical realism -- it is all too real to think that if your loved one was "disappeared", you would endlessly search, believe, hope that someh This book, chillingly, doesn't feel untimely.
There is a magical element here, but not really magical realism -- it is all too real to think that if your loved one was "disappeared", you would endlessly search, believe, hope that somehow, some way you would find your loved one again. If you do see them years later, is it a break with reality? Has the stress of decades caused hallucinations, alternate realities of the mind? Or is it an against-all-odds reunion?
It's not an easy book to read or to follow. Partly it focuses on a woman whose husband becomes a "disappeared" soon after they are married. She never gives up hope, she never stops searching. But her trials are compounded by her family life as her father is a mouthpiece, the master of PR for the regime. She's torn between the harsh reality of knowing what her father does, what the regime does, but also not wanting to believe those truths of her father, not wanting to believe what happened to her husband, not wanting to know the things her country is doing.
Her life is in this state of purgatory always. Another element comes into play partway through: the author the real author or a fictitious version of the real author who himself lived in exile during the military dictatorship?
Is the author telling her story? Is she telling her story to the author? Or is the author creating her reality? Her unreality? Not an easy read stylistically or content-wise. Apr 02, Michelle Lancaster rated it liked it Shelves: books-i-ve-reviewed.
Personally, I have a soft spot for Latino cultures, our neighbors to the south, and Mexico is breaking my heart. I would rather vacation in Peru than in Germany so please don't think I'm prejudiced. Still and all, everyone in this book is insane: the general, the doctor, the mapmaker, the mother, the wife and etc. Emilia Dupuy's husband Simon Cardoso disappeared in Argentina and has been missing and presumed or known, depending on who you're talking to dead for 30 years when she spies him in a restaurant in New Jersey.
He has not aged or changed in 30 years, exactly the same. They go back to her place and spend the weekend together. Or maybe they spend the rest of their lives together. Or maybe they don't go back to her place. Maybe Simon is a ghost, or maybe he doesn't exist in any form on any plane. During the seventies and eighties Argentina suffered from a military dictatorship that had lots in common with the Third Reich and Franco's Spain.
Thousands of people were "disappeared. In the book the dictator general is referred to as "the Eel" and the appellation is pitch perfect. Simon mouths off one night during dinner and this appears to be the catalyst for everything that comes after.
Emilia and Simon are cartographers and are sent to a remote region to map and are captured by the army, suspected of being subversives. They are separated and interrogated. Emilia is released. What happens after that is murky to say the least. Is Simon released? There are witnesses who say they witnessed Simon's death or saw his body. Emilia gets anonymous messages claiming he is alive and living in Caracas or Mexico. She spends the rest of her life, as far as we can tell for not much is actually known , searching for him.
I have had a difficult time deciding what the rating for this book should be. I very much enjoyed the parts in Argentina and the intermittently comedic treatment of the totalitarian regime. I found Emilia's search tedious at times. Mostly this book made me feel impatient. You don't know whether you're coming or going, which way is up?
I realize that this is probably what the author intended but geez. It reminded me of the "the big lie" philosophy of the Nazis. Who are you going to believe? Me or your lying eyes? The author of Purgatory was born in Argentina and was forced to live in exile during the military dictatorship. Senor Martinez was professor of Latin American studies at Rutgers University until his death in A quote from page about what is lost with death: "If we could recover the unwritten books, the lost music, if we could set out in search of what never existed and find it, then we should have conquered death.
Jan 17, Gerald rated it liked it.
Martinez, Tomas Eloy. Purgatory: A Novel
He told me he was trying to write a novel about the Argentinian dictatorship that bled the country from to , but that he wanted to do it without descriptions of atrocities, without depictions of rape and torture — rather a recreation of what it felt like "to breathe in the contaminated air" of the time. For the actors of history, the obvious is what is always absent. I wish I could write that. As those who have suffered through such times know, the condition of absence is particularly vivid in times of dictatorship.
Purgatory by Tomás Eloy Martínez, translated by Frank Wynne - review
Emilia Dupuy's husband vanished in the s, while the two were mapping an Argentine country road. All evidence seemed t. All evidence seemed to confirm that he was among the thousands disappeared by the military regime. Yet Emilia never stopped believing that the disappeared man would reappear. And then he does, in New Jersey. Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Want to Read saving….
Purgatory, by Tomás Eloy Martínez