The Secret History of Costaguana by Juan Gabriel Vasquez

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Synopsis

From the author of The Sound of Things Falling, a "brilliant new novel" (New York Times Book Review) and one of the most buzzed about books of the year!

"One of the most original new voices of Latin American literature." -- Mario Vargas Llosa, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature

“Unlike anything written by his Latin American contemporaries” (The Financial Times) The Informers secured Juan Gabriel Vásquez’s place as one of the most original and exuberantly talented novelist working today. Now he returns with an ingenious new novel of historical invention.

On the day of Joseph Conrad's death in 1924, the Colombian-born José Altamirano begins to write and cannot stop. Many years before, he confessed to Conrad his life's every delicious detail—from his country's heroic revolutions to his darkest solitary moments. Those intimate recollections became Nostromo, a novel that solidified Conrad’s fame and turned Altamirano’s reality into a work of fiction. Now Conrad is dead, but the slate is by no means clear—Nostromo will live on and Altamirano must write himself back into existence.

As the destinies of real empires collide with the murky realities of imagined ones, Vásquez takes us from a flourishing twentieth-century London to the lawless fury of a blooming Panama and back in a labyrinthine quest to reclaim the past—of both a country and a man.
 

About Juan Gabriel Vasquez

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Juan Gabriel Vásquez ’s previous books include The Informers, which was short-listed for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, and The Secret History of Costaguana, which won the Qwerty Prize in Barcelona. His books have been published in fifteen languages worldwide. He lives in Bogotá.
 
Published June 9, 2011 by Riverhead Books. 303 pages
Genres: History, Education & Reference, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Secret History of Costaguana

The Guardian

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Though inspired by the geography and history of Colombia, Conrad's Nostromo, published in 1904, is not a faithful depiction of Vásquez's homeland, any more than Vásquez's Conrad is a faithful depiction of Conrad.

Jun 04 2010 | Read Full Review of The Secret History of Costaguana

The Bookbag

Columbian writer, Juan Gabriel Vásquez imagines that the fictitious José Altamirano has assisted Conrad in his research by telling him his own story, only to find that the British novelist has subsequently inexcusably omitted him from his book.

May 30 2010 | Read Full Review of The Secret History of Costaguana

Oregon Live

The barrels of Chinese men lead, by various direct or convoluted routes, to a cholera epidemic, José Altamirano's conception and Miguel Altamirano's passionate championship of the French effort "to part the land as Moses parted the sea."

Jul 23 2011 | Read Full Review of The Secret History of Costaguana

City Book Review

But perhaps it is its ambitions that doom this novel, as the reader is often left both wanting more clarity and less detail from the author, who has bitten off more than he can chew in attempting to tackle so many different narrative themes at once.

Apr 26 2012 | Read Full Review of The Secret History of Costaguana

MostlyFiction Book Reviews

Vásquez loses none of his narrative virtuosity, but halfway through his book begins to pall, partly because the mixture of personal and political no longer seems to gel, and partly because he also begins to tell the parallel story of Conrad in Europe and Africa.

Jun 18 2011 | Read Full Review of The Secret History of Costaguana

Bookmarks Magazine

But in Juan Gabriel Vásquez's novel The Secret History of Costaguana, we uncover the hidden source- and one of the great literary thefts.

On the day of Joseph Conrad's death in 1924, the Colombian-born José Altamirano begins to write and cannot stop.

Jun 26 2011 | Read Full Review of The Secret History of Costaguana

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