Winner of the Tusquets prize in 2015 and previously translated into French, German, Dutch, Polish, and Portuguese, Alberto Barrera Tyszka’s Patria o muerte is now available in English.
President Hugo Chávez’s cancer looms large over Venezuela in 2012, casting a shadow of uncertainty and creating an atmosphere of secrets, lies, and upheaval across the country. This literary thriller follows the connected lives of several Caracas neighbors consumed by the turmoil surrounding the Venezuelan president’s impending death.
Retired oncologist Miguel Sanabria, seeing the increasingly combustible world around him, feels on constant edge. He finds himself at odds with his wife, an extreme anti-Chavista, and his radical Chavista brother. These feelings grow when his nephew asks him to undertake the perilous task of hiding cell-phone footage of Chávez in Cuba. Fredy Lecuna, an unemployed journalist, takes a job writing a book about Chávez’s condition, which requires him to leave for Cuba while his landlord attempts to kick his wife and son out of their apartment. Nine-year-old María, long confined to an apartment with a neurotic mother intensely fearful of the city’s violence, finds her only contact with the outside world through a boy she messages online.
“Barrera Tyszka is one of the most important novelists of his generation.”
Albinson Linares, The New York Times
“The Last Days of El Comandante stands out for its courage in telling--from the daily experiences of a group of characters--the Venezuelan reality in a less than accommodating way, and for the author's ability to do so with an absorbing narrative rhythm that reflects the anguish and complications of lives conditioned by the hysteria and tensions of a country keeping watch over its charismatic leader.”
Juan Marsé, Premio Tusquets de Novela
“An impressive political lesson from a great novelist.”
Juan Villoro, prize-winning author of El testigo and many other works.