“…I shall find you there, and so there I go, repeating it to myself with all the force and stubbornness of a light in the middle of a fog that men call hope.” (100)
This is a beautifully sad and powerful book. I feel that there is so little that I can say other than that you should read it.
Told from the perspective of a retired teacher in his 70’s living in a small and isolated town in Columbia, we the reader are presented with a tale that has been lived and died a thousand time throughout the epoch of humanity. Those in power will corrupt and destroy. Those not in power will be bound by a simple choice: to live a victim or to die at the edge of disgrace and honor.
“They will go somewhere, to a place that is not theirs, that will never be theirs, like what is happening to me, staying in a place that is no longer mine: here dusk or night may begin to fall or dawn to break without my knowing, is it that I no longer remember the time?” (190)
The compelling nature of this book is the unique perspective of the narrator, Ismail. As the novel opens in a peaceful time we learn that Ismail is a forgetful man, happy to spend his aging years spying on his neighbor’s wife as she sunbathes in the nude. He avoids his social obligations to relax his aching body and spy on young girls in cafes. He is a likable dirty-old-man. These weaknesses of character give Ismail’s narration a deeply personal and honest subtlety. There is no false ideology or sentimentality buried in Ismail’s narrative voice and therefore his depictions of the coming violence that suddenly devours his town’s identity are told from a clear and raw lens of truth.
There are so few books worth reading and this is one.