The Secret History of Costaguana
By Juan Gabriel Vasquez
(Riverhead Hardcover, Hardcover, 9781594488030, 304pp.)
Publication Date: June 9, 2011
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A bold historical novel from "one of the most original new voices of Latin American literature" (Mario Vargas Llosa, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature).
In the early twentieth century, a struggling Joseph Conrad wrote his great novel Nostromo, about a South American republic he named Costaguana. It was inspired by the geography and history of Colombia, where Conrad spent only a few days. But in Juan Gabriel Vásquez's novel The Secret History of Costaguana, we uncover the hidden source- and one of the great literary thefts.
On the day of Joseph Conrad's death in 1924, the Colombian-born José Altamirano begins to write and cannot stop. Many years before, he confessed to Conrad his life's every delicious detail-from his country's heroic revolutions to his darkest solitary moments. Conrad stole them all. Now Conrad is dead, but the slate is by no means clear- Nostromo will live on and Altamirano must write himself back into existence. As the destinies of real empires collide with the murky realities of imagined ones, Vásquez takes us from a flourishing twentieth-century London to the lawless fury of a blooming Panama and back.
Tragic and despairing, comic and insightful, The Secret History of Costaguana is a masterpiece of historical invention. It will secure Juan Gabriel Vásquez's place among the most original and exuberantly talented novelists working today.
Juan Gabriel Vásquez is a critically acclaimed Colombian writer, translator, and award-winning author of a collection of stories Los amantes de Todos los Santos, as well as the novels Historia secreta de Costaguana and The Informers, which has been translated into seven languages. He has translated works by Victor Hugo, E.M Foster and John Hersey, among others, his essay “El arte de la distorsión” won the Premio Nacional Simón Bolívar, and he is a regular columnist for El Espectador, the newspaper of dissent in Bogotá. Educated in Colombia, and in Paris at the Sorbonne, he now lives and teaches in Barcelona, Spain with his wife and twin daughters.
Praise for The Secret History of Costaguana
“Audacious…a potent mixture of history, fiction and literary gamesmanship.” —Los Angeles Times
“An exceptional new novel.” —The Wall Street Journal
Praise for Juan Gabriel Vásquez
“One of the most original new voices of Latin American literature." — Mario Vargas Llosa, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature
“Remarkable . . . Immensely entertaining . . . The best work of literary fiction to come my way since 2005.” — Jonathan Yardley, The Washington Post
“One hallmark of a gifted novelist is the ability to see the potential for compelling fiction in an incident, anecdote or scrap of history. . . . By that standard and several others, the career of Juan Gabriel Vásquez . . . is off to a notable start.” — Larry Rohter, The New York Times