Author(s): Juan Gabriel Vasquez
No sooner does he get to know Ricardo Laverde than disaffected young Colombian lawyer Antonio Yammara realises that his new friend has a secret, or rather several secrets. Antonio's fascination with the life of ex-pilot Ricardo Laverde begins by casual acquaintance in a seedy Bogota billiard hall and grows until the day Ricardo receives a cassette tape in an unmarked envelope. Asking Antonio to find him somewhere private to play it, they go to a library. The first time he glances up from his seat in the next booth, Antonio sees tears running down Laverde's cheeks; the next, the ex-pilot has gone. Shortly afterwards, Ricardo is shot dead on a street corner in Bogota by a guy on the back of a motorbike and Antonio is caught in the hail of bullets. Lucky to survive, and more out of love with life than ever, he starts asking questions until the questions become an obsession that leads him to Laverde's daughter. His troubled investigation leads all the way back to the early 1960s, marijuana smuggling and a time before the cocaine trade trapped a whole generation of Colombians in a living nightmare of fear and random death. Juan Gabriel Vasquez is one of the leading novelists of his generation, and The Sound of Things Falling that tackles what became of Colombia in the time of Pablo Escobar is his best book to date.
The dark, brilliant new novel by the author of The Informers and The Secret History of Costaguana.
A powerful, humane novel about a man trying to make sense of a war he didn't choose to fight Kate Saunders, The Times Compelling ... He holds his narrative together with admirable stylistic control as he shows a world falling apart and the powers of love and language to rebuild it Anita Sethi, Observer A piece of Latin American literary noir that lays bare the costs of the drug trade ... In a return to the thriller form of Vasquez's superb The Informers ... A heartfelt account of the drama suffered by a generation ... Vasquez offers no polemic. Yet as debates on the legalisation of drugs remain weighted towards suffering in consumer countries, this novel affords a rare understanding of the inhuman cost on the other side Maya Jaggi, Guardian The Sound of Things Falling has a strikingly idiosyncratic tone: wistful, elegiac almost, but not at all sentimental ... beautifully written Irish Times Enigmatic Boyd Tonkin, Independent Books of the Year The work reads beautifully. Vasquez's persistence in exploring the darker corners of his country's history, in probing his characters' intractable duality, and in questioning the frailties of memory, is compounded by his skill in evoking those instances when things change forever: such as when the telephone rings Independent The story is compelling but through Vasquez's vivid prose (rendered brilliantly into English by the award-winning translator Anne McLean) it also becomes haunting ... A poignant and perturbing tale about the inheritance of fear in a country scrabbling to regain its soul Financial Times Aided by the characteristic excellence of Anne McLean's translation, memories, multiple ironies and descriptive passages of stunning force flow effortlessly into each other, so much so that you wonder how much longer Vasquez is going to be able to maintain the intensity. Admirers of Vasquez will expect of him such verbal virtuosity. But there is an additional emotional element to The Sound of Things Falling that takes this novel to a higher level Daily Telegraph Celebrated Colombian Juan Gabriel Vasquez's latest novel brings to the fore the full, tragic force of the drugs trade on those in the source countries in this captivating Latin American noir ... The sense of loss and melancholy are superbly held in a novel that explores the pain and release to be found in revisiting the past Metro A sobering book, The Sound of Things Falling makes a virtue of pained honesty about Colombia's recent past. Only a reckoning can help its citizens to love their country again. "The saddest thing that can happen to a person", Maya remarks, "is to find out their memories are lies." Truths may be difficult - murky and stained with compromise - but they offer a path forward The Literary Review Impressed by an expansive novel of Colombia's past and present ... Vasquez follows Balzac's maxim that "novels are the private histories of nations" Sunday Telegraph From the opening paragraph I felt myself under the spell of a masterful writer Nicole Krauss [on The Informers] As if mature Le Carre had wandered into the narrative labyrinths of Borges Boyd Tonkin, Independent [on The Informers] A thrilling new discovery Colm Toibin A fine and frightening study John Banville [on The Informers] One of the most original original voices of Latin American literature Mario Vargas Llosa
Juan Gabriel Vasquez was born in Bogota in 1973. He studied Latin American literature at the Sorbonne between 1996 and 1998, and now lives in Barcelona. His stories have appeared in anthologies in Germany, France, Spain and Colombia, and he has translated works by E. M. Forster and Victor Hugo, amongst others, into Spanish. He was recently nominated as one of the Bogota 39, South America's most promising writers of the new generation. His highly praised novel The Informers, the first of his books to be translated into English, has been published in eight languages worldwide. Anne McLean has twice won the Independent Prize for Foreign Fiction: for Soldiers of Salamis by Javier Cercas in 2004 (which also won her the Valle Inclan Award) and for The Armies by Evelio Rosero in 2009.