“If you are killed because you are a writer, that’s the maximum expression of respect, you know.” – Mario Varga Llosa

I have recently finished a book that has been on my “books to read” list for a long time.  Now, the additions to my list are added in a very haphazard way so the only thing I knew about this book was that the author was Mario Vargas Llosa and that it was considered one of his best novels.  I think it ended up on my list, because I really liked his “Aunt Julia and the Script Writer” (La tía Julia y el escribidor) published in 1977, and I wanted to read another of his goodies.   By the way “Aunt Julia” was made into a film in the US titled “Tune in Tomorrow …” (1990) starring Peter Falk and Barbara Hershey.

So – I was very surprised to find out that “The Feast of the Goat” (La fiesta del chivo) published in 2000 was about the Dominican Republic’s dictator Rafael Trujillo and the end of his 30 year dictatorship, and,  wow, were these two books as different as night and day.  Whereas “Aunt Julia” was a short comic jewel, “The Goat” had nothing comic about it.  It was raw and brutal.  Further information from Wikipedia: “The novel follows three interwoven storylines. The first concerns a woman, Urania Cabral, who is back in the Dominican Republic, after a long absence, to visit her ailing father; she ends up recalling incidents from her youth and recounting a long-held secret to her aunt and cousin. The second story line focuses on the last day in Trujillo’s life from the moment he wakes up onwards, and shows us the regime’s inner circle, to which Urania’s father once belonged. The third strand depicts Trujillo’s assassins, many of whom had previously been government loyalists, as they wait for his car late that night …” (Click here to see more about this title in Wikipedia).

“The Goat’s” time period follows the period chronicled in Julia Alvarez’s “In the Time of Butterflies” about the Mirabal sisters and their famous fight against Trujillo’s tyranny.  The sisters are mentioned often in Vargas Llosa’s book, and Alvarez’s book is quite a good read as well.

Totally by happenstance my reading of “The Goat” coincided with what appears to be the end of the Gaddafi era in Libya and also made me think of the Middle Eastern countries in the throes of creating liberated governments from vacuums formed by doomed dictatorships.  The vacuum created in the Dominican Republic was as terrible in its way as the dictatorship had been, but the government formed was quite miraculous.  Here’s hoping that this story will repeat in the Middle East.

~ The Reluctant Blogger

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