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Aguilar, an unemployed literature professor who has resorted to selling dog food for a living, returns home after a three-day business trip to discover that his wife, Agustina, has gone mad. He doesn't know what has happened during his absence, and in his search for answers, he slowly uncovers profound and shadowy secrets hidden deep in his wife's past. On one level, "Delirium" reads like a detective story, as the reader pieces together information to find out what caused Agustina's madness. But it is also a remarkably nuanced novel whose currents run much deeper, delving into the minds of four unique characters: Aguilar, a husband passionately in love with his wife and determined to rescue her from madness; Agustina, a beautiful woman from a Colombian upper-class family who is caught in the throes of delirium; Midas, Agustina's former lover and a prominent drug-trafficker and money-launderer; and Nicolas, Agustina's grandfather, who also went mad at the end of his life. Through the mixing of these distinct voices, Laura Restrepo creates a searing portrait of a society battered by war and corruption, as well as an intimate look at the daily lives of people struggling to stay sane in an unstable society. It is an ambitious and deeply affecting masterwork by one of Latin America's most important contemporary voices.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9781846551185
ISBN-10: 1846551188
Format: Hardback
(223mm x 142mm x 28mm)
Pages: 336
Imprint: Harvill Secker
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Publish Date: 16-Aug-2007
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Reviews

US Kirkus Review » A prominent Colombian family's degradation and undoing mirror their country's victimization by murderous drug lords in this ambitious novel, the author's sixth in English translation.Four narrators share the story of the Londo-os of Bogota, at least one of whom exhibits a deeply divided personality. She's Agustina, a bewitchingly beautiful "lunatic" who drifts in and out of promiscuity and paranoia, and who, in memories of her childhood and youth (in which she often refers to herself in the third person), broods obsessively over her not-quite-sisterly affection for her frail, effeminate younger brother Bichi, the prime target of their domineering father's violent physical abuse. Complementary and contrasting stories are told by Agustina's doting husband, Aguilar, 16 years her senior, and a university professor unemployed due to ongoing political unrest (and reduced to delivering dog food); her former lover Midas McAllister, a drug-dealer in nervous thrall to internationally powerful overlord Pablo Escobar; and her German grandfather Nicholas Portulinus, a piano teacher whose cosmetic marriage to his former student Blanca masks his sexual attraction to nubile young musicians of both genders. Much of this is seductive and enthralling, and sharp characterizations (the best being the indirect one of the malevolent, unstable Escobar) keep the reader interested throughout. But the multiple narratives are presented without transitions and, too often, are so confusing that the reader is hard-pressed to decipher exactly who successively introduced characters are (a prime example: Agustina's duplicitous and dangerous other brother Joaco), and how they're all interconnected. Nonetheless, Restrepo's unflinching portrayal of Agustina's - and, by implication, Colombia's - reluctance to confront her demons has genuine power, and many of this sometimes ungainly novel's big scenes are hard to shake off.After the treacly The Angel of Galilea (1998) and the acrid Leopard in the Sun (1999), you never know what you'll get from Restrepo. Delirium is one of her better books. (Kirkus Reviews)


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Author Biography - Laura Restrepo

Laura Restrepo is the bestselling author of several prize-winning novels published in over a dozen languages, including Leopard in the Sun, which won the Arzobispo San Clemente Prize, The Angel of Galilea, which won the Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz Prize in Mexico and the Prix France Culture in France, and Delirium, which won the 2004 Alfaguara Prize, the Grinzane Cavour Prize in Italy, and was shortlisted for the Prix du Meilleur Livre Etranger in France. She lives in Mexico City.

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