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Latest Review: "Tyrant Memory" by Horacio Castellanos Moya

The latest addition to our Reviews Section is a piece by Julia Haav on Horacio Castellanos Moya’s Tyrant Memory, which is translated from the Spanish by Katherine Silver, and will be available later this month from New Directions. It’s also this week’s Read This Next title.

Julia is is a publicist for Europa Editions and is completing a master’s degree in the humanities, with a focus on contemporary Latin American literature, at NYU. She’s written a few reviews for us in the past, and hopefully will do more in the future.

Anyway, here’s the opening of her review:

Contemporary Latin American literature in translation abounds with words of posthumous support from Roberto Bolaño, a blurber par excellence for a generation of writers only now being ushered into the Anglo-American canon, in some cases two decades after first being published.

The mild absurdity of this gold standard, against which the works of many of his contemporaries are set, is hardly lost on his friend Horacio Castellanos Moya, who wrote a 2009 article for Argentina’s La Nacion, “Bolaño Inc.,” that began: “I told myself I wasn’t going to write or say anything more about Roberto Bolaño.”

Bolaño, for his part, wrote, or perhaps said, one of the more salient and lingering points one could make about Castellanos Moya calling him: “The only writer of my generation who knows how to narrate the horror, the secret Vietnam that Latin America was for a long time.”

The praise, like most pithy promotional quotes, is perhaps an overstatement, but hardly an invalid one, as Castellanos Moya’s excellent new creation, Tyrant Memory makes clear.

Set over the course of one month in 1944, with a concluding chapter taking place twenty nine years later, the novel’s backdrop is the failed military coup against Salvadoran President Maximiliano Hernández Martínez, a sympathizer of European Fascism and casual mystic whose legacy of human rights abuses is frequently recounted by way of his assertion that it is better to kill a man than to kill an ant. The man will be reincarnated, the ant won’t.

Click here to read the full review.

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