I admit it. Eighty percent of my Reading for Pleasure (RFP) reading list is pretty light, twenty percent is not. Death in the Andes, by Mario Vargas Llosa is in the latter group. As with The Bad Girl which I reviewed a few weeks ago, this edition was translated by Edith Grossman. Death in the Andes is more graphic that The Bad Girl and was much more visual. There’s a juxtaposition between the city life in Peru versus the country life that could probably be a great topic for a dissertation. Not only is there a vast difference in landscape between the two, but the cultural differences are frightening.
The story revolves around Lituma, an Army officer and his aide Tomás, who are assigned to a remote village in the mountains. By day these young men deal with guerillas as well as the local witchcraft and the relationship of the two to three missing men. At night, Tomás tells the tale of his love affair with Mercedes, a prostitute. The similarities between Mercedes and the Bad Girl of the book of the same name, could probably also be a great topic for a dissertation.
This is an excellent novel on so many levels by a very talented writer. It’s a book to be savoured. Even so, I couldn’t put it down. I highly recommend.