Chile


En memoria
Photo by gotto78 used under a Creative Commons license.

Patricia Verdugo, Chile, Pinochet, and the Caravan of Death, (University of Miami, North/South Center Press, 2001).
Writing in Salon’s Literary Guide to the World
, Ariel Dorfman says:

The Pinochet years have, in fact, spawned a plethora of incisive books. If I had to choose one to take on a journey into the bitter heart of Chile’s oppression, it would be [this book]. The story of the extrajudicial execution of a group of prisoners in the north of the country is paced like a thriller, as the author, a fearless journalist, struggles to unravel not only the transgressions of the army but also the ways in which the military fruitlessly attempted to cover up its crimes.

It was originally published in 1989 under the title Los Zarpazos del Puma (The Claws of the Puma).

Verdugo died earlier this year; via Tomas Dinges, here is her obituary in the Guardian. She outlasted Pinochet. Reviewing the book in Latin American Politics and Society, Anthony W. Pereira says this is a meticulous yet gripping account, a fascinating study of the consolidation of power within a dictatorship, the use of violence for political ends, and the tension within the military between the norms of military honor and the perceived need of coup leaders to concentrate power. Here is more on the Caravan of Death.

Buy it at Amazon.com.

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Photo by Madasor used under a Creative Commons license.

Roberto Bolaño, By Night in Chile (New Directions, 2003).
On his deathbed, in the course of a single night, Sebastián Urrutia Lacroix, an Opus Dei priest, reconsiders his life, as if to justify to himself his collaboration with the Pinochet regime and his own literary career. Bolaño, a supporter of the Allende government, was imprisoned after Pinochet seized power and then went into exile. Beautiful writing; an excellent book.

Reviews: Richard Eber (The New York Times), Ben Richards (The Guardian (UK)), Waggish. Marcello Balvé writes about Bolaño in the San Francisco Bay Guardian. Scott Esposito writes about By Night in Chile and his other works in The Quarterly Conversation. Bloggers viswanathan and alok post about it. MDD offers a long quotation, as do Cooper and Mrs. Biggs’ Reading Club.

Buy this book at Amazon.com.