La ciudad está triste by Ramón Díaz Eterovic


Post-Boom Latin America literature found in crime fiction, specifically in hard-boiled detective fiction, a way to address a reality characterised by state sponsored violence, increased criminality and human rights violation under authoritarian governments. This new subgenre was called neopolicial. Among its most notable followers we can name Paco Ignacio Taibo II in Mexico, Mempo Giardinelli in Argentina, Leonardo Padura Fuentes in Cuba, and Ramón Díaz Eterovic in Chile. If interested you can read The Hard-boiled Detective Novel in Latin America by Mempo Giardinelli HERE. An introduction to Latin America Mystery Writers An A-to-Z Guide (2004) edited by Darrell B. Lockhar.

Ramón Díaz Eterovic (Punta Arenas, 1956) is a Chilean writer, popularly known for his novels featuring a private eye called Heredia, from whom we do not know his first name. To my knowledge he has not been translated into English but this is the most prolific series in the region. Heredia made his first appearance in a novella La ciudad está triste (Editorial Sinfronteras, 1987. The city is sad). The series was followed by Solo en la oscuridad (Lom, 2003), Nadie sabe más que los muertos (Planeta, 1993), Ángeles y solitarios (Planeta, 1995), Nunca enamores a un forastero (1999), Los siete hijos de Simenon (Lom, 2000), El ojo del alma (Lom, 2001), El hombre que pregunta (Lom, 2002), El color de la piel (Lom, 2003), A la sombra del dinero (Lom, 2005), El segundo deseo (Lom, 2006), La oscura memoria de las armas (Lom, 2008) and a collection of short stories, Muchos gatos para un solo crimen (Lom, 2005).

Heredia has also been adapted into a television a series, ‘Heredia and Associates’ by Televisión Nacional de Chile, TVN and into a graphic novel Heredia Detective by LOM ediciones.

In La ciudad está triste (1987, The City is Sad), Heredia is a solitary and cynical private eye, prone to melancholy. He likes reading and horse racing. He is also an alcoholic and a heavy smoker, tough but sentimental. Unfortunately I could not find him attractive enough, Heredia has all the clichés of his North American counterparts. The plot is simple, at the request of a young woman, Marcela Rojas, Heredia is hired to find her younger sister, a university student who has disappeared. Since Chile is not specifically mentioned, the action can take place anywhere in the Southern Cone. The story is well constructed and fast paced, with short but witty dialogues. Very easy to read given its length. It provides a snapshot of a terrible era that we should never forget. Just to remind you Pinochet dictatorship lasted from 1973 until 1990.

For an introduction to Ramón Díaz Eterovic you may read: Detection, Dictatorship and Democracy: Santiago de Chile in Ramón Díaz Eterovic’s Heredia series by Kate Quinn Department of Spanish, National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland, HERE.

You can read an excerpt from La ciudad está triste HERE (in Spanish). See also ‘El detective Heredia y su gato llamado Simenon’ por Ramón Díaz Eterovic (in Spanish) and LOM Editorial webpage.

La ciudad está triste (1987)

Ramón Díaz Eterovic

Editorial LOM, 2000

Number of pages: 78

ISBN: 956-282-329-6

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2 thoughts on “La ciudad está triste by Ramón Díaz Eterovic

  1. >Jose Ignacio – What an interesting and helpful way to put the neopolicial into context, and to discuss Eterovic, whose work I have not yet experienced. I have read Taibo II, so I think I know what you mean about using crime fiction to address some of the dark side of authoritarian governments. I'm going to have to see if I can find some Eterovic. Thanks!

  2. >Usually, I am not very fond of hard-boiled crime fiction, but it makes an important difference to me if the story is hard-boiled because the environment is that way. So I expect South American crime fiction to be different from Scandinavian books.

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