Purgatory

Purgatory

by Tomas Eloy Martinez
     
 

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Simón Cardoso had been dead for thirty years when Emilia Dupuy, his wife, found him at lunchtime in the dining room of Trudy Tuesday. So begins Purgatory, the final and perhaps most personal work of the great Latin American novelist Tomás Eloy Martínez. Emilia Dupuy's husband vanished in the 1970s, while the two were mapping an Argentine

Overview

Simón Cardoso had been dead for thirty years when Emilia Dupuy, his wife, found him at lunchtime in the dining room of Trudy Tuesday. So begins Purgatory, the final and perhaps most personal work of the great Latin American novelist Tomás Eloy Martínez. Emilia Dupuy's husband vanished in the 1970s, while the two were mapping an Argentine country road. All evidence seemed to confirm that he was among the thousands disappeared by the military regime. Yet Emilia never stopped believing that the disappeared man would reappear. And then he does, in New Jersey. And for Simón, no time at all has passed. In Martínez's hands, this love story and ghost story becomes a masterful allegory for history political and personal, and for a country's inability to integrate its past with its present.

Praise for Santa Evita :

"Brilliant…Affirms his place among Latin America's best writers."-New York Times

"Here is the novel that I have always wanted to read."-Gabriel García Márquez

"A beautiful book, a miracle."-Carlos Fuentes

"A master novel…I got choked up, I suffered, I enjoyed."-Mario Vargas Llosa

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this haunting and surreal depiction of the military dictatorship that gripped Argentina in the late 1970s after the death of Juan Peron, Martínez (1934–2010) explores the devastation of those left behind when their loved ones “disappeared” in the Dirty War. The story is told through the lens of cartographer Emilia Dupuy, the daughter of a high-ranking adviser during the military junta. Now 60 years old and living in New Jersey, Emilia one day sees her husband, Simón, who she was sure “had been dead thirty years” at the hands of military officials (and, she suspects, on the orders of her father). Simón looks exactly as he did 30 years earlier, “had not aged a day,” and still loves Emilia. She takes him back to her apartment where they reconnect, and then she goes away with him, alarming her friends. Told from the perspective of a New Jersey writer and professor to whom Emilia has told her tale, the novel weaves Emilia’s life without Simón together with the week of their beguiling reunion. Martínez (The Tango Singer) questions the ideas of identity, geography, existence, and reality with fluid prose and finely detailed imagery that throws into relief the brutality and fear of this dark era. (Dec.)
Library Journal
In Highland Park, NJ (near Rutgers Univ., where the author once taught), Emilia Dupuy spots her husband, Simón Cardoso, who has been dead 30 years, wearing the same clothes, looking 30 years younger than he should be, and even toting the same leather bag he carried when he was allegedly murdered in Tucumán, Argentina, by government forces. Despite eyewitness accounts of his murder, Emilia has waited for her husband to return, the very definition of purgatory as a "wait whose end we cannot know." The author soon intervenes directly, purporting to tell Emilia's story firsthand as a narrator. Between the initial encounter and the final explanation, Martínez fills the pages with the saga of Emilia's family—her marriage and career, her mother's insanity, her father's collusion with the authoritarian government, her loyalty to her sister—while blending fiction and history. Unlike other novels that deal with the "disappeared" during Argentina's Dirty War, however, Martínez glosses over the details of the atrocities and focuses instead on the historical implications of the era. VERDICT The author of the hugely successful Santa Evita has written another well-paced novel, despite the seeming digressions, verging on fantasy, but with a denouement that may disappoint some readers as a cop-out.—Lawrence Olszewski, OCLC Lib., Dublin, OH
Kirkus Reviews
For his last novel, the Argentinian writer (1934–2010) constructed a maze, at the heart of which is a woman who refuses to give her husband up for dead. An Argentinian woman, dismissing eyewitness accounts of her husband's execution by the military dictatorship, embarks on a 30-year search for him and is rewarded by his reappearance. Emilia Dupuy and Simón Cardoso, both cartography students, meet in Buenos Aires. They are instant soul mates, marrying in 1976, soon after the military coup. Emilia's father is the publisher of a political magazine and the coup's most able propagandist. The new president dines at the Dupuy mansion. Simón criticizes the use of torture. Dupuy is furious; his son-in-law must be punished. The young couple are sent to a remote town on a mapping assignment. Both are arrested. Emilia is released; Simón is never seen again. He has joined "the disappeared," the regime's notorious hallmark. Emilia sets off on a wild goose chase that takes her to Rio, Caracas and Mexico City, after having been viciously humiliated by Dupuy, a true monster, while caring for her senile mother; she eventually settles in a New Jersey town, working as a cartographer. Enter a new character, one of Emilia's Jersey neighbors, a professor and novelist, evidently Martínez himself. In a postmodern twist, she is the protagonist in his novel in progress. The author's interest in her life story somehow sparks Simón's return, providing a happy ending for the reunited lovers. These events are embedded in a metaphysical density: mapping and disappearing are the novel's two poles. The operatic quality of Argentinian life is given its full due, while the overreaching of the fascists receives a priceless putdown when Orson Welles meets Dupuy in Los Angeles. Ultimately, Martínez counteracts the black magic of the "disappearances" with his own novelist's magic: the resurrection of one of the victims. Justice of sorts is done in this absorbing finale of a distinguished career.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781608197118
Publisher:
Bloomsbury USA
Publication date:
11/22/2011
Pages:
288
Product dimensions:
5.58(w) x 8.36(h) x 0.80(d)

Meet the Author

Tomás Eloy Martínez was born in Argentina in 1934. During the military dictatorship, he lived in exile in Venezuela where he wrote his first three books, all of which were republished in Argentina in 1983, in the first months of democracy. He was until his death in January 2010 a professor and director of the Latin American Program at Rutgers University. He was shortlisted for the 2005 International Man Booker Prize.

Frank Wynne has translated numerous books from both French and Spanish into English, including the work of Michel Houellebecq, Marcelo Figueras, and Jules Verne. His accolades as a translator include the Scott Moncrieff Prize, the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, and the IMPAC Dublin Literary Festival Prize.

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