This is the third novel by Colombian author Juan Gabriel Vasquez. I read the translation from Spanish, written by award-winning translator Anne McLean.
This is a beautifully written (or at least beautifully translated) novel about a young male law professor who is accidentally shot after befriending a mysterious ex-convict in a Bogota pool hall. Throughout the length of his recovery, the specter of the Colombian drug trade looms large – the violence it causes and the lives it destroys.
While I respect the writing in this story, I found it to be a bit melancholy for my taste. Also, I didn’t really care for the main character. He casually mentions how he sleeps with his female students in exchange for raising their grades, and then proceeds to get one of them pregnant. At times, he seems to care about this woman and their child, but ultimately treats them both with great inconsideration. Maybe I missed the non-incriminating epiphany that causes him to do this – or maybe the guy is just an ass pipe. Luckily, there are other characters in the story who are more likable and interesting.
Despite these issues the book held my interest.