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CriticasIn this first novel, Peruvian author Benavides (Cuentario y otros relatos [Short Story Collections and Other Tales], Okura Editores, 1989) gives readers a view of 1990s Peruvian society, focusing on the political and economic crises that followed the 1980s Paquetazo ("economic austerity package"). In this story about politically active youths struggling to remain idealistic as the destructive APRA administration collapses, Benavides bounces across varying social strata in a stream-of-consciousness style that can be confusing at times. But one of the book's most perplexing stylistic elements is also its most effective: As Benavides switches from one voice to another, interrupting third-person narration with fragments of first-person reflections, readers become aware of each character's thoughts. In some instances, the author even writes in the second person, producing a mix of voices that mimics oral speech. Although readers might wonder how the different story lines and voices will eventually intersect, they will soon lose themselves in the book's unique and enjoyable rhythm. Benavides rewards patient readers with a bumpy ride through Peruvian society, focusing on the characters' "pointless" frustrations as they attempt to negotiate their positions within the larger community. Due to the complex narrative structure and the need for a basic familiarity with Peruvian current events, this novel is recommended for libraries and bookstores serving an academic clientele.
—Anne Barnhart, David Bishop Skillman Lib., Lafayette Coll., Easton, PA Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.