Sunday, October 23, 2016

Not hereditary, Fear is Contagious {Colombia}

The Sound of  Things Falling | Juan Gabriel Vásquez

3/5 stars

Globetrotting Mom: Not hereditary, Fear is Contagious {Colombia Historical Fiction: The Sound of  Things Falling by Juan Gabriel Vásquez}

So far in my life no one has been able to explain convincingly, beyond banal historical causes, why a country should chose as its capital its most remote and hidden city. It’s not our fault that we Bogotanos are stuffy and cold and distant, because that’s what our city is like, and you can’t blame us for greeting strangers warily, for we’re not used to them.

Colombia produces fugitives, that’s true, but one day I’d like to find out how many of them were born as Maya & I were at the beginning of the 1970s, how many like Maya or like me had a calm or protected or at least unperturbed childhood, how many traversed their teenage years and fearfully became adults while the city around them sank into fear and the sound of gunshots and bombs without anyone having declared any war, or at least not a conventional war, if such a thing exists. 

The Sound of Things falling is NOT Narcos. It’s NOT about Pablo Escobar or much about the Drug cartels or Drug Wars. It’s about the effect of Pablo Escobar and the drug wars and the way it changed the way Colombians behaved as sons, daughters, parents, husbands and wives. 

You don’t have to be a bogotano to know what it is like to get a frantic call asking “Where are you? Are you OK?” to know that there has been an attack in the city. 

But the violent years in Colombia were on a different level altogether. 

That is ‘The Sound of  Things Falling’ for you, the English Translation of “El Ruido de las Cosas al Caer" The book which swings back and forth between decades and the five characters; an American peace corps volunteer who married a Colombian pilot who transported drugs to the United States in the 70s. A little girl who slowly and purposefully drowns her pet armadillo. A casualty in a crossfire, who becomes crippled by fear and slowly pushes away the people close to him.

But in case you’re the type of reader who wants all the stories tied together in a neat bow, you may reach the last page furrowing your brows together and looking for pages that have probably gone missing! And get a feeling that various parts of the book were random inspirations written exclusively of each other and forced together some time later to form one whole story. 

{This para contains some spoilers} I wish some stories had ended a bit differently, I wonder why the author thought it necessary to kill off Elena Fritts or Ricardo Laverde before they could narrate their stories themselves, instead of the children putting together the pieces. Was the point of all the open-endedness to explore our inner empathy? That 99% of shit that happens in the world you will never understand, so just pick up and move on?

Nonetheless, Juan Gabriel Vásquez is one of the top few writers of Colombia, and this brief peek into a bit of Colombia’s recent history is a LOT less violent version than the TV show!

More Books Exploring Countries & Cultures:

Globetrotting with Books: The Series & Link Up
 Dominican Republic |   Bulgaria  |  Pakistan  | Turkey  |  Iran  |  
 North Korea |  Indonesia |   Colombia |Full List (+Linky) 

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  1. Interesting review. I've not read or heard of this book before, and I confess it's not probably something I would pick up and read - my husband on the other hand would love it, so I'll be recommending it to him. #dreamteam

  2. Brilliant review, I need to get back into reading, I do miss a good book. Thank you for sharing with #bigpinklink x

  3. Great to hear your views on this. The way you have written about it makes me interested in giving it a read. But I am more of a JoJo Moyers type of girl, so I think this would give me nightmares. Thanks so much for linking up to the #DreamTeam x

  4. Sounds like a great read. Narcos is one of my favourite tv series.

  5. I loved the quote you have shared and it gives us the great message I must say. You really motivate people through your post and it is always a great experience to visit