This riveting novel is one of the best I’ve read this year. I was captivated by the overarching theme of reputation—the relationship between “truth” and reputation. The protagonist is a successful and influential political cartoonist responsible for affecting the reputations and careers of many politicians in his native Colombia. At the height of his career, he finds himself reexamining the events of 28 years prior that inspired one of his most scathing cartoons. As a result, he questions his choices and motivations (was he only concerned with enhancing his own reputation at the expense of truth?), and ultimately the merits of his career and basically every important life choice he has made. The words of Lewis Carroll’s White Queen (“It’s a poor sort of memory that only works backwards.”) reverberate throughout, and the theme of the ephemeral nature of memory, this idea that “certainties acquired at some moment in the past could in time stop being certainties” never fails to intrigue me. It inspired me to consider how I will reflect on my life one day. How will my memories be altered by time? What will my reputation be? Will it be deserved, earned, justified? Vasquez is a master storyteller, and I devoured this novel in a day, but have been thinking of it ever since.
“With direct and forceful narrative and a translation as smooth and peaceful as the quiet narrator himself, this book takes the reader on a days-long search for the past and the present in modern day Bogota. A prominent political cartoonist is shaken when a forgotten uncertainty from the past resurfaces. This psychological study of the concept that what we believe makes us who we are is a masterpiece!”
— Nicole Magistro (W), The Bookworm of Edwards, Edwards, CO
A brilliant novel about the power of politics and personal memory from one of South America's literary stars, the New York Times bestselling author of The Sound of Things Falling. Javier Mallarino is a living legend. He is his country's most influential political cartoonist, the consciousness of a nation. A man capable of repealing laws, overturning judges' decisions, destroying politicians' careers with his art. His weapons are pen and ink. Those in power fear him and pay him homage. After four decades of a brilliant career, he's at the height of his powers. But this all changes when he's paid an unexpected visit from a young woman who upends his sense of personal history and forces him to re-evaluate his life and work, questioning his position in the world. In Reputations, Juan Gabriel Vasquez examines the weight of the past, how a public persona intersects with private histories, and the burdens and surprises of memory. In this intimate novel that recalls authors like Coetzee and Ian McEwan, Vasquez plumbs universal experiences to create a masterful story, one that reverberates long after you turn the final page. Named aBest Book of the Year by the New York Times, Newsweek, the Guardian, and Kirkus
About the Author
Juan Gabriel Vasquez's previous books include the 2014 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award winner and national bestseller, The Sound of Things Falling, as well as the award-winning The Informers, The Secret History of Costaguana, and the story collection Lovers on All Saints' Day. Vasquez's novels have been published in twenty-eight languages worldwide. After sixteen years in France, Belgium, and Spain, he now lives in Bogota. Anne McLean translates Latin American and Spanish novels, short stories, memoirs, and other writings. She has twice won both the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize and the Premio Valle Inclan, and received the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award with Juan Gabriel Vasquez for his novel The Sound of Things Falling. She lives in Toronto.
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