Monday, July 23, 2012

Spanish Lit Month: Tales from the Town of Widows by James Canon

Publisher: Harper Perennial
Date: 2007
Format: paperback
Source: purchased
Read: as part of the pre-college TBR cleanout/for Spanish Lit Month
Pages: 337
Reading time: three days

Country: Columbia. Technically, Tales from the Town of Widows doesn't quite fit into Spanish Lit Month, as it was originally published in English. However, the author grew up and attended university in Columbia before moving to New York in the 1990s.

From GoodReads: Set against the backdrop of the ongoing Colombian war, this brilliant novel tells the story of Mariquita, a mountain village that’s forever altered the day a band of communist guerrillas forcibly recruits all but three of its men. Left to fend for themselves with an ethically challenged priest, a transvestite and a withdrawn gay man, the virtual widows slowly emerge from their supporting roles as wives and daughters to become unwitting founders of a remarkable new society: an all-female utopia that, ironically, is founded on the very socialist values the guerrillas claim to be fighting for but have betrayed. And when some of the men come home after their 16-year absence and try to reclaim their power, things get really interesting . . . . 

My review: Tales from the Town of Widows wasn't quite what I had expected, at least in terms of style and plot. In just about every other way, though, it exceeded my expectations. The story and writing are very engaging, alternating at times between humor (both dark and more lighthearted) and some pretty tough glimpses at the effects of civil war in Columbia. The novel may look from the cover and whatnot to be a fairly light read, but the underlying content - satire on the Church, war, and politics; the destruction and death brought by fighting - is dark. It's at once an entertaining read, an eye-opener on the socio-political situation in  village Columbia, and, towards the end, a fascinating feminist utopia. An all-around great book.

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