Red April (Abril rojo) – Santiago Roncagliolo

I read this book as my contribution to 2010 Global Reading Challenge (South America)

Roncagliolo, S. Abril Rojo (2006) Santillana Ediciones. Madrid. 344 p. ISBN: 84-204-7052-X

The action in Red April -Pantheon (2009)- takes place in Ayacucho (Peru) in the year 2000 between Ash Wednesday and Eastern Sunday. The main character Associated District Prosecutor Felix Chacaltana Saldivar, an unambitious, hapless, by-the-book civil servant, has to face a murder investigation, a burned corpse that has been found mutilated. The brutality of the crime suggests the possible implication of the terrorist group Shinning Path. But this hypothesis doesn’t fit the official version: the terrorist group has been defeated and no longer exists. Therefore the case is close with an empty report. As a reward Felix Chacaltana Saldivar is sent to a remote village to monitor the presidential elections where the nonexistent terrorist group still operates. The obsessively bureaucratic civil servant will have to get use to the irregular procedures of the local police and the military authorities. Upon his return to Ayacucho he stubbornly continues with the investigation when he finds out that anyone who talks with him dies.

Red April is a superb reading. The story is so powerful that it grabs your attention from the first to the last page. Although the plot may have some loose ends and maybe some characters are not very well developed, but the main character is quite an achievement and it serves Roncagliolo well to give us a very powerful portrait of Peru during the last years of Fujimori’s government with universal implications anywhere where people are caught between corruption and terrorism; where nobody can claim innocent.

Santiago Roncagliolo (Lima 1975) earned international recognition when he was awarded with Premio Alfaguara de Novela 2006 for Red April, so far his only political thriller.

For further information visit:
An interview with Peruvian author Santiago Roncagliolo
The complete review

Abril rojo – Santiago Roncagliolo