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De vorm van ruïnes por Juan Gabriel…
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De vorm van ruïnes (original 2015; edição 2017)

por Juan Gabriel Vásquez, Brigitte Coopmans

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2181295,725 (3.85)28
In 2014, a man is apprehended at a museum in Bogotá trying to steal the suit that an assassinated politician wore on the day of his death. What is behind--and what is the link between--the 1914 attacks against Colombian senator Rafael Uribe Uribe--who would inspire García Márquez to create Aureliano Buendía from One Hundred Years of Solitude, the leader of the Liberal Party Jorge Eliecer Gaitán--whose death in 1948 would blow up the history of Colombia, and JFK in Dallas, Texas, on November 22, 1963? Carlos Carballo, the protagonist of this story, is a man obsessed with the past who looks for signs and clues to unravel history's secrets and lies. What happens if you look at all these crimes together? Is it possible that they might hold an answer? Juan Gabriel Vásquez, the author-narrator of the novel, had a strange privilege: to hold in his hands the mortal remains of those two politicians whose assassinations affected the 20th century in Colombia. This novel stems from that moment in his life. Those are the ruins described in the title. This is a tale about criminal investigations, but also about the relationship that we establish with the past and with political conspiracies, both real and imaginary. Why do they fascinate us? Why do we insist on searching for hidden culprits in the violent acts that have impacted our history? How do we inherit them even if they happened before we were born? By including himself as a narrator in a fiction work, Vásquez uses events in his own life--from the births of his daughters to the way that he came to hold the remains of two murdered men--to reflect about these topics.… (mais)
Membro:wxc777
Título:De vorm van ruïnes
Autores:Juan Gabriel Vásquez
Outros autores:Brigitte Coopmans
Informação:Amsterdam Signatuur 2017
Colecções:A sua biblioteca
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The Shape of the Ruins por Juan Gabriel Vásquez (2015)

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I picked up this book because of a review in the Guardian, and because it was shorlisted for the Man Book international in 2019. This is almost three books in one, three stories, delineating the convulsions of Colombian history through two key political assassinations, the 1914 murder of General Rafael Uribe Uribe and the 1948 assassination of Jorge Eliecer Gaitan (which started the 10-year period known as La Violencia), both Liberal leaders. The 3rd storyline is the first person one. The three storylines are interwoven in a way that makes the book part history, part murder mystery, part reflection of what is history / History.
This is not an easy read. This is a book that demands your attention but is really well worth it. ( )
  SocProf9740 | Jul 11, 2021 |
Another interesting piece of documentary fiction, although this is a bit more in the tradition of W.G. Sebald than of the Javier Cercas novels I've been reading lately: although the narrator and central character of this book is a Colombian novelist called Juan Gabriel Vásquez, and the story deals with his developing interest in two major events from Colombian history, the assassinations of Jorge Eliécer Gaitán in 1948 and of Rafael Uribe Uribe in 1914, Vásquez mixes in obvious fictional elements and techniques with obviously real documentary material, as well as a scattering of minor details that we can't be so sure about (one novelist who plays an important part in the story, Rafael Humberto Moreno Durán, was a real colleague of Vásquez, and Gabriel García Márquez seems to have existed too, but not all the authors mentioned in the text are quite as real...). And authentic-looking photographs and documents reproduced on the page, a very Sebaldish touch.

Speaking of Gabriel García Márquez - it struck me how, with the same historical events to deal with, his steamy, exotic Colombia feels like a completely different country from the very urban, 20th century environment Vásquez describes.

As well as what it tells us specifically about Colombia, this is a book about how we, as individuals, relate to history and the artefacts it leaves behind. Vásquez sees us all as trying in different ways to resolve the conflict between our rational awareness that real-life events are mostly random, arbitrary and related only in simple, obvious ways (the Occam's razor approach), and the more emotionally-satisfying urge to impose meaning and connection on the world, even if that means hypothesising the existence of complex and unlikely conspiracies. And of course when the narrator of a novel selects events to tell us about, we have a higher expectation of meaning and connection than we would have in real life, and this gives the author extra opportunities to play little tricks on us.

I did feel occasionally that I had been chosen as guinea-pig for a self-assessed psychology experiment, and at other times that I was learning more about the narrator's life than could possibly be relevant, but Vásquez is good at judging what he does, and he kept me wanting to carry on reading and find out where the book would go next. Very worthwhile. ( )
  thorold | Jul 4, 2019 |
Were it possible to give more than five stars, I wouldn’t hesitate for a moment. This story is weaved so masterfully that I sit here awestruck at the journey I just finished. This book has been placed high atop my list of all-time works of fiction. ( )
  DarkSideFloyd9 | Jun 6, 2019 |
Vásquez is an acclaimed novelist who has won prizes for his earlier books. This latest release is a long and complicated set of stories focusing on two political murders in his home country of Colombia. One occurred in the 1940s and the other nearly half a century earlier. Both politicians were Leftists who presented a threat not only to the ruling parties but to powerful Colombian elites. The character who becomes involved in understanding these historical events and the conspiracy theories to which they’ve given rise has the same name as the author, and shares many characteristics and experiences as the author, but is not exactly the author. Yes, we are in the world of autofiction, but this version is quite different, to my mind, from the kind of autofiction practiced by Rachel Cusk, Olivia Laing, or Edouard Louis.

Whereas those authors tend to look inward, Vásquez the character acts as the reader’s guide to the histories, showing at first the kind of skepticism a “rational” reader would, but then slowly recognizing the ways in which conspiracies can represent a way to make sense of official explanations that aren’t entirely convincing or satisfactory. We also learn quite a bit about Vásquez the person (the character Vásquez, that is), and he doesn’t hesitate to show us both his more and less admirable qualities. The result is a novel in which the reader swings from long discursive sections about political murders in 1948 and 1914 to poignant, heart-in-mouth descriptions of Vásquez’s wife’s pregnancy and the birth and infancy of their twin daughters.

The reader accompanies Vásquez on his journey from skepticism and a sense of superiority over conspiracy theories to a more sympathetic understanding of why such theories gain traction. The last part of the book, in particular, when the author is directly addressing the role of history in our national cultures, is powerful in arguing that the more we hide inconvenient facts or ambiguities that reflect poorly on the status quo, the more we make spaces for systems of thought that can make sense of those inconveniences and ambiguities. Sometimes we simply cannot know what happened; sometimes what happened undermines our sense of rightness or forward progress. But denying that, or papering it over with a “nothing to see here” explanation doesn’t solve the problem and can give rise to others. Vásquez is talking about Colombia and its history of political violence, but I violence is endemic to all polities and failing to acknowledge that creates problems in all political cultures.

This is a long, dense, complex book. The stories are told partly through dialogue but primarily through narration, and the details and trajectories of the various events recounted are peopled by many characters and sometimes hard to keep track of. The long central section on the 1914 murder and the attempt to uncover its truth was a slog for some readers. I was gripped by it, and it serves a critical function in the larger story, but your mileage may vary. It’s not a demanding book in terms of style (it’s very straightforwardly written and the translation, by Anne McLean, seems excellent), but it does require that the reader pay attention. And did I say it’s long.

Nevertheless, I found the book completely engrossing and I felt changed and enlightened by reading it. It’s a different kind of social and historical novel, an important one, that helped me understand the role of conspiracies in politics and in our public discourse. And it’s a gripping set of stories, with a compelling and engaging narrator. ( )
  Sunita_p | May 16, 2019 |
Wow this book.

Yes, even though this novel includes my pet peeve of the author including himself as a character, I still give it 5 stars.

This novel looks at political assassination conspiracies. In particular those of two Colombians--Uribe Uribe and Gaitan--as well as JFK (used more as a reference point of conspiracy theories, perhaps because it is so well known? Even in Colombia?). I spent a fair amount of time on Wikipedia reading about Uribe Uribe, Gaitan, Anzola, and Vasquez himself. I have not read any of his other books, and was happy to read that he is not a fan of magical realism )https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Juan_Gabriel_Vásquez) (me either!).

So in this novel he looks at these assassinations and examines the conspiracy theories around them, and what this all means to Colombian history and Colombians. Do people in Colombia talk about possible conspiracies having to do with these assassinations? Or did he makes them up? I can't really tell, as I cannot read the Spanish articles I can find online. But Vasquez's real point is to wrap those theories around to show how these events affected the lives of regular people, how close his characters still are to events of 60-100 years ago, and how it all wraps around to the beginning. Yes, at the end he pulls it back to where we started.

This book is definitely not for everyone, it is intense and somewhat confusing, and I have no doubt I missed things due to my lack of knowledge about Colombian history. But I still loved it. It's long, it's complicated, and it all connects. Bravo!

And to think I only picked this up because it is on the Man Booker International short list. And it deserves to be. I did not feel like I was reading a translation--though I had to google "knuckleduster" because that is what Canadians (like the translator) call brass knuckles, apparently. Who knew? Not me. ( )
  Dreesie | May 12, 2019 |
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Thou art the ruins of the noblest man...
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For Leonardo Garavito,

who put the ruins in my hands

For María Lynch and for Pilar Reyes,

who showed me how to shape them
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The last time I saw him, Carlos Carballo was climbing with difficulty into a police van, his hands cuffed behind his back and his head hunched down between his shoulders, while a news ticker running along the bottom of the screen reported the reason for his arrest: the attempted theft of the serge suit of an assassinated politician.
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In 2014, a man is apprehended at a museum in Bogotá trying to steal the suit that an assassinated politician wore on the day of his death. What is behind--and what is the link between--the 1914 attacks against Colombian senator Rafael Uribe Uribe--who would inspire García Márquez to create Aureliano Buendía from One Hundred Years of Solitude, the leader of the Liberal Party Jorge Eliecer Gaitán--whose death in 1948 would blow up the history of Colombia, and JFK in Dallas, Texas, on November 22, 1963? Carlos Carballo, the protagonist of this story, is a man obsessed with the past who looks for signs and clues to unravel history's secrets and lies. What happens if you look at all these crimes together? Is it possible that they might hold an answer? Juan Gabriel Vásquez, the author-narrator of the novel, had a strange privilege: to hold in his hands the mortal remains of those two politicians whose assassinations affected the 20th century in Colombia. This novel stems from that moment in his life. Those are the ruins described in the title. This is a tale about criminal investigations, but also about the relationship that we establish with the past and with political conspiracies, both real and imaginary. Why do they fascinate us? Why do we insist on searching for hidden culprits in the violent acts that have impacted our history? How do we inherit them even if they happened before we were born? By including himself as a narrator in a fiction work, Vásquez uses events in his own life--from the births of his daughters to the way that he came to hold the remains of two murdered men--to reflect about these topics.

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