La Fiesta del Chivo by Mario Vargas Llosa *****

Reading dates: 13 June 2013 – 07 July 2013

I loved this book: the premise, the execution, the rhythm, the structure … Everything about it. It tells the story of the assassination of Dominican dictator Trujillo from the point of view of the daughter of one of his ministers, Trujillo himself, and the conspirators. Playing with time and tense, presence and memory, in an intricate weave towards the event itself, the book is a masterpiece of reveals. I have never been keen on historical novels but these characters go beyond reality and had to become fiction. I mean, you just need to read the wikipedia page for Ramfis Trujillo, the dictator’s playboy son, to see what I mean. The book is impeccably written—at least in Spanish— with effortless prose which I don’t always find characteristic of Vargas Llosa. He is usually too wordy for me but in La Fiesta del Chivo, every word is necessary. Beautiful book, harrowing (there is, of course, torture and rape) but very moving. I am grateful to my friend María for recommending it. I would not have picked it up. This shows that one should never have genre dislikes. A good book is a good book whatever, or in spite of, the topic.