“At Night We Walk in Circles: A Novel” by Daniel Alarcon

This novel takes place in an unnamed South American country during and after a civil war about three decades ago.

The most prominent feature of this novel is its “play within a play” structure. Everyone has a “real” identity, a “political” identity, a “theatrical” identity and maybe more. And NO ONE knows what’s going on, how to live, what he wants. Blunders and confusion abound. One comment I heard (in a book group) was “Where are the adults?” Maybe protracted warfare had completely destroyed any hope of “normal” life. 

Two characters suffer unjust imprisonment. One is traumatized beyond recovery. We don’t learn the fate of the other. 

One character is almost a blank. He’s there, for most of the action, but we never learn much about him. Sancho Panza?

Another structural feature of the novel is that the omniscient narrator gradually turns into a participant in the plot. Some readers found this too “cute” or a bit manipulative.

Alarcon (a Peruvian born US citizen, age 45, MacArthur Fellowship recipient) is a very vivid and dramatic writer, and I recommend him to anyone seeking to read outside the general run of recent American and European literature.

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