Publication Date: September 2009
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Ismail, the profesor, is a retired teacher in a small Colombiantown where he passes the days pretending to pick oranges whilespying on his neighbor Geraldina as she lies naked in the shadeof a ceiba tree on a red floral quilt. The garden burns with sunlight;the macaws laugh sweetly. Otilia, Ismail's wife, is ashamed ofhis peeping and suggests that he pay a visit to Father Albornoz.Instead, Ismail wanders the town visiting old friends, plaguedby a tangle of secret memories: Where have I existed theseyears? I answer myself: up on the wall, peering over. Whenthe armies slowly arrive, the profesor's reveries aregradually taken over by a living hell. His wife disappears andhe must find her. We learn that not only gentle, grassy hillsidessurround San Jose but landmines and coca fields. The reader issoon engulfed by the violence of Rosero's narrative that is touchednot only with a deep sadness, but an extraordinary tenderness.