The Secret History of Costaguana

The Secret History of Costaguana

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London, 1903. Joseph Conrad is struggling with his new novel ('I am placing it in South America in a Republic I call Costaguana'). Progress is slow and the great writer needs help from a native of the Caribbean coast of South America. Jose Altamirano, Colombian at birth, who has just arrived in London answers the great writer's advertisement and tells him his life story. Jose has been witness to the most horrible things that a person or a country could suffer, and drags with him not just a guilty conscience but a story that has almost destroyed him. But when Nostromo is published the following year Jose is outraged by what he reads: 'You've eliminated me from my own life. You, Joseph Conrad, have robbed me.' I waved the Weekly in the air again, and then threw it down on his desk. 'Here,' I whispered, my back to the thief, 'I do not exist.' The Secret History of Costaguana, the second novel by Juan Gabriel Vasquez to be published in English, is Jose Altamirano's riposte to Joseph Conrad. It is a big novel, tragic and despairing, comic and insightful by turns, told by a bumptious narrator with a score to settle. It is Latin America's post-modern answer to Europe's modernist vision. It is a superb, joyful, thoughtful and rumbustious novel that will establish Juan Gabriel Vasquez's reputation as one of the leading novelists of his generation.

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  • Hardback | 320 pages
  • 136 x 214 x 32mm | 340.19g
  • 07 Jun 2010
  • Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
  • London
  • English
  • 1408800187
  • 9781408800188
  • 600,453

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Author Information

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.

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Review quote

Praise for THE INFORMERS 'A fine and frightening study of how the past preys upon the present.' John Banville 'From the opening paragraph of The Informers, I felt myself under the spell of a masterful writer.' Nicole Krauss 'Juan Gabriel Vasquez is one of the most original new voices of Latin American literature.' Mario Vargas Llosa

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