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Library JournalFollowing the tradition of the "Crack" movement, Mexican novelist Toscana—whose works have been translated into several languages and have received many awards—writes a novel that is at once Central European and Mexican. The story takes place in the former German city of Königsberg during the bombardments of World War II and, simultaneously, in Monterrey, Mexico. This dreamy alternate reality of overlapping geographies and histories evolves into an ode to the destroyed Prussian city—which became a part of Russia and is now called Kaliningrad—while decrying the dullness of Monterrey: "Why did Monterrey have to live and Königsberg die?" This somewhat puzzling experiment feeds on drama: the fruitless search for six disappeared children (one mother goes crazy and dresses a pig as her child); the Soviet occupation, which brings about massive killings and rapes; a theater play; a boxing match; and even romance when a school student develops a crush on his teacher. But Toscana's smokeandmirror wordplay and taste for formal gimmickry (e.g., free verse, threeline chapters) feel too contrived and actually inhibit the reader's involvement. Although it strives to be moving, this novel will be enjoyed by those looking for sheer experimentation and style.—Carlos Rodríguez Martorell, East Elmhurst, NY
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