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War by Candlelight: Storiesby Daniel Alarcon
Synopses & Reviews
Something is happening around the globe: mass movements of peoples, dislocations of language and culture in the wake of war and economic crises — simply put, our world is changing.
In this exquisite collection, Daniel Alarcón takes the reader from Third World urban centers to the fault lines that divide nations and people. Wars, both national and internal, are waged in jungles, across borders, in the streets of Lima, in the intimacy of New York apartments. These are lives at the margins of the globalized and not-yet-globalized worlds, the stories of those who shuttle between them and never quite feel at home in the cities where they were born: an unrepentant terrorist remembers where it all began, a would-be emigrant contemplates the ramifications of leaving and never coming back, a reporter turns in his pad and pencil for the inglorious costume of a street clown.
War by Candlelight is a devastating portrait of a world in flux, and Daniel Alarcón is an extraordinary new voice in literary fiction, one you will not soon forget.
"Civil strife and natural disasters mark these nine unflinching stories set in upper Manhattan and the blighted countryside and atrophied capital of Peru. Callous government forces destroy a prison controlled by rioting inmates in the grimly poetic 'Flood.' In the 'City of Clowns' — first published in the New Yorker — social protests crowd Lima, where 'dying is the local sport,' while narrator Oscar, a jaded young journalist, grapples with his father's death and with his father's second family, which includes other sons and a mistress who seems to be befriending his mother. A revolutionary, who, with his compaeros, worships 'frivolous violence,' prowls around looking for black dogs to slaughter in 'Lima, Peru, July 28, 1979.' His brief, almost tender interaction with a passing cop is a striking example of doomed connection. And an accidental explosion kills a well-educated guerrilla in a Peruvian jungle, leaving his infant daughter fatherless, in the affecting title story. Even the collection's warmest scene — a father gives his impish five-year-old a make-up kit for her birthday in 'A Science for Being Alone' — is muffled by her and her mother's impending emigration to the United States. Though his vision often seems bleak, Alarcn's voice is fierce and assured, and his debut collection engages. Agent, Eric Simonoff. (Apr.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Daniel Alarcón's stories are one of the reasons we go to storytellers — they present worlds we have only imagined or heard about in less truthful and poetic ways. And Mr. Alarcón, like the best storytellers, reveals to us that the world we have secreted in our hearts spins in a bigger universe with other hearts just as good and just as bad as our own. Long before you come to the poignant words, 'I come see you, but instead meet your absence,' you will know what I mean." Edward P. Jones, author of the Pulitzer Prize winner, The Known World
"American literature, whether in English or Spanish, comprises one rowdy, glorious family (as Borges always knew.) Daniel Alarcón writes in English, but he reminds me of the young Vargas Llosa. 'Beautiful, disgraced Lima,' Peru has a new enamorado for this young century, edgy, vibrant, crackling smart, emotionally devastating and soaring." Francisco Goldman, author of The Divine Husband
"Reader beware: each of the slim tales in War by Candlelight starts off innocently enough, but invariably explodes with the fatal power of a grenade or the sudden, magnificent blossoming of a flower. Daniel Alarcón is a storyteller whose wisdom outpaces his youth, and whose talent is already ablaze." ZZ Packer, author of Drinking Coffee Elsewhere
"Nine diverse stories show this Peruvian-American newcomer's passionate involvement with his material. Whether it's a deadly landslide, a no-holds-barred neighborhood turf war, or a guerrilla war convulsing a nation, Alarcon jumps right in with a fearlessness that becomes his most striking quality....A rare combination of technical accomplishment and generous heart." Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
"The Peruvian-born Alarcón writes in a strong, vibrant style, with recognizable characters and realistic situations. The names and places are Hispanic in name only; the stories transcend a sense of place." Library Journal
"Alarcon returned to Peru on a Fulbright and now evokes the sorrows and beauty of that ravaged land with a precision and steadiness that stand in inverse proportion to the magnitude of the losses he so powerfully dramatizes....Alarcon, gifted and perceptive, joins a new wave of incisive literary border-crossers..." Booklist (starred review)
In this exquisite collection, Alarcón takes the reader from Third World urban centers to the fault lines that divide nations and people, personalizing the shifting realities of our own contemporary world.
About the Author
DanielAlarcón was born in Lima, Peru, and raised in Birmingham, Alabama. His work has been published in The New Yorker, Harper's, and elsewhere. He is a former Fulbright Scholar to Peru and the recipient of a Whiting Writers' Award for 2004, and he lives in Oakland, California.
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