Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Review: "Our Lady of the Assassins" by Fernando Vallejo

This is the longest times between reviews for me in a long time, but I will do my best to talk about Columbian author Fernando Vallejo’s short, brutal novel, Our Lady of the Assassins. This book is less a novel, and more of a sustained cry from a narrator who is painfully, irrevocably lost in the world he grew up in, that, thanks in part to drug lords like Pablo Escobar, has turned the streets into a battlefield of a useless drug war, and innocent civilians into collateral damage. The first writers that came to mind while reading this were from Vallejo’s continent, such as Chile’s Bolano, and fellow countrymen Juan Gabriel Vasquez, especially in how he writes about what illegal drugs has turned his country into. But I was also reminded of Scottish author James Kelman, who is famous for these manic first-person narrators who seemed destined for an early grave if God is merciful. The man here, a writer just like Vallejo, comes back to his hometown of Medellin to find it overrun by a brutal drug culture that has devalued human life. He finds some solace in his sad, yet fulfilling relationship with a young male prostitute. The young man also happens to be a paid assassin, who kills at will and for the most minor transgressions, such as having a bad haircut. I won’t tell you where the story goes, but it is quite brutal, with deaths of important people in Fernando’s life being killed off in the span of paragraphs. This book is far from perfect, with its pause-less style barely able to sustain it’s brisk 132-page count, but it is never uninteresting in its unredeemable bleakness. If you can find it, and have a few hours to kill, this book will definitely satisfy you. 

Rating: 4/5

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