Read The Secret History Of Costaguana by Juan Gabriel Vásquez Free Online
Book Title: The Secret History Of Costaguana|
The author of the book: Juan Gabriel Vásquez
ISBN 13: 9781408800188
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 583 KB
Edition: Bloomsbury UK
Date of issue: June 1st 2010
Read full description of the books The Secret History Of Costaguana:This novel is kind of a “three-fer” – three stories wrapped around one. Mostly it’s a historical novel about Panama, at the time when the Isthmus was still part of the nation of Colombia. The story is built around the failed attempt by the French to construct a canal in the late 1800’s, before the US engineered a coup to split Panama off from Colombia and take over the canal project. Although the French effort was led by a brilliant engineer, de Lesseps, who built the Suez Canal, the project was essentially sabotaged by graft and corruption. Any great event like this in those days necessarily cost thousands of lives and our main character initially becomes aware of the project while in medical school arranging for Chinese workers who died on the project to be shipped to Bogota medical schools to be used as cadavers. He migrates to the Panama province to meet up with his father who turns out to be a journalist who sold-out to the graft and corruption crowd. The father is obsessed with the canal and he is paid to write fictitious articles about “smooth progress” on its construction. Meanwhile our main character meets a French woman and has a daughter but experiences personal tragedy as collateral damage in the endless political wars.
Which leads me to the second theme of the book: the continuous, essentially institutionalized violence in Colombia that has led to continuous civils wars. Many nations have had “A” Civil War with a tremendous death toll that reshapes their history but they move on – the US and Spain come to mind. But I looked up on Wiki and Colombia has had the same civil war over and over again – Liberals vs. Conservatives, often with a quarter-million dead, with the utmost brutality and gruesome killings of women and children on each side: 1839-1841; 1860-1862; 1876; 1899-1902 (the time of this novel); 1948-1958 and 1946-present against the FARC guerrillas, which may or may not be coming to an end. (And we’re not counting The War of Independence (from Spain) 1811-1823, two wars against Peru, and one against Ecuador in the meantimes.)
Lastly, the novel is a kind of homage to Joseph Conrad. Conrad fans will recognize in the title of the book, Costaguana (great name, by the way), the fictitious Latin American country of Conrad’s novel Nostromo. Vasquez has written a biography of Conrad, so he knows Conrad’s life inside and out. So the third theme is that during his seaman days, Conrad’s ships stopped in Panama several times and our fictitious main character told him his story, which Conrad then incorporated into Nostromo. Vasquez structures the book to make constant references to what Conrad was doing and where he was concurrently with what our main character was doing, but really all that is peripheral to the main story of the book. Other famous people who actually visited Panama at the time of the novel have walk-ons, such as Sarah Bernhardt and Paul Gauguin. All in all, excellent writing (translated from the Spanish) and a good read.
Read information about the authorEstudió Derecho en su ciudad natal, en la Universidad del Rosario, y después de graduarse, partió a Francia, donde se instaló en París (1996-99). Allí, en La Sorbona se doctoró en Literatura Latinoamericana. Luego se mudó a un pequeño pueblo de la región de Ardenas, en Bélgica. Después de un año de vivir allí, Vásquez se instaló en Barcelona, donde reside hasta hoy.
Vásquez es autor de tres novelas "oficiales" —Los informantes, Historia secreta de Costaguana y El ruido de las cosas al caer—, aunque escribió otras cuando tenía 23 y 25 años de edad, que él prefiere elimanar. "Me gustaría que me dejaran olvidar esa parte de mi pasado. Me tomo ese derecho", ha dicho.
Vásquez, que colabora en diversas revistas y suplementos culturales, también escribe ensayos y columnista del periódico colombiano El Espectador, ha tenido éxito de crítica y las tres novelas citadas han sido distinguidas por ella. Sus relatos de Vásquez han aparecido en antologías de Alemania, Francia, España y Colombia, y sus novelas han sido traducidas en Inglaterra, Francia, Holanda, Italia y Polonia. Además, él mismo ha traducido obras de John Hersey, Victor Hugo y E. M. Forster, entre otros. Formó parte del jurado de 81 escritores y críticos latinoamericanos y españoles que en 2007 eligieron para la revista colombiana Semana los mejores 100 libros en lengua castellana de los últimos 25 años.
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