The Absent Sea by Carlos Franz

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The Absent Sea is the English-language debut of one of the most important Chilean novelists living, a major novel that hovers between actual history and timeless mythology.
Just before the coup d'etat that overturned Chile's govenrment under Allende, a young, idealistic judge is posted to a provincial center in the vast northern desert. After the coup, the town is occupied by the military, which establishes a concentration death camp for dissidents. Immediately, the conflicted relationship between the judge, Laura, and the commandant, Major Cáceres, leads to a life-changing decision which results in her lengthy exile to Germany. Twenty years later, she returns to Chile to face up to her past, and to answer the scathing question flung at her by her daughter: "Where were you, Mamá, when all those horrible things were happening in your city?" Laura's reply to her daughter takes the form of a long letter about the dramatic events of twenty years before. Meanwhile, in alternating chapters, Laura's return coincides with a religious festival. By the end of three days, the city and all its inhabitants will be forever altered.

"In The Absent Sea, Carlos Franz tells a fascinating story which is at once an investigation into the depths of human cruelty and compassion on an occasion of historical violence. Written and constructed with a masterful hand, it is one of the most original novels that modern Latin American literature has produced."--Mario Vargas Llosa

About Carlos Franz

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Carlos Franz (b. Geneva, Switzerland, 1959) is the son of a Chilean diplomat and a Swiss actress. He lived in Switzerland until he was 12 years old, when he moved to Chile. He has a degree in Law from the Universidad de Chile, though he has never practiced. Instead, he became a student of Jos Donoso in writing workshops in Santiago. For seven years he directed the International Book Fair in Santiago; he has also taught literature at the Universidad Diego Portales. In 2000 he received a DAAD grant and spent a year in Berlin as an artist in residence; afterward he passed several years in England, first as a Visiting Fellow at Cambridge University and then as an Honorary Research Fellow at King's College, the University of London, before moving to Madrid, where he still resides. He is married, with one daughter. Leland H. Chambers is a translator of modern and contemporary fiction from Latin American and Spanish fiction writers. He has translated books by Carmen Boullosa, Julieta Campos, and Juan Tovar, all from Mexico. He has also co-edited an anthology of contemporary short stories from Central America, translating 20 of the 51 stories.
Published June 17, 2011 by McPherson & Company. 375 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Absent Sea

Kirkus Reviews

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Twenty years after the coup that toppled Salvador Allende’s government, Laura Larco returns to Pampa Hundida.

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Publishers Weekly

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As the book opens, Laura has returned to Pampa Hundida, where she served as the magistrate after the coup, prompted by a question from her idealistic daughter, Claudia—Berlin-born and now living in Chile—who wants to know where Laura was "when all those horrible things were taking place."

Apr 11 2011 | Read Full Review of The Absent Sea

ForeWord Reviews

When idealistic Laura challenges Cácares, they develop an abusive relationship in which “the torture had created between us, who were strangers, an intimacy that parodied love.” Prompted by Claudia’s quest for the truth, Laura decides to return as the magistrate of Pampa Hundida’s vacated judgesh...

Jun 29 2011 | Read Full Review of The Absent Sea

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