Literary Category: contemporary fiction
Synopsis: What we deem virtuous and wicked are often interchangeable, even reversible: revealing the equivocal nature of sin with its various facets, like a diamond, dependent upon the light.
As if stepping out of a painting by Hieronymus Bosch, the characters of this work of fiction include Arcangel, the adolescent assassin; Luis B. Campocé, the adulterous executive; Emma, who butchers her lover; a happily incestuous couple; an executioner nicknamed "The Widow"; the three Susanas, all of them sisters, each of them apathetic or conceited; and, finally, an arrogant Syrian prophet.
The disconcertingly ambiguous idea of sin is embodied in each of these protagonists. The Garden of Earthly Delights no longer hangs in the museum but rather has become frighteningly, sometimes comically, real –inhabited by characters of flesh and blood who whisper in our ears their particular relationship with evil. To what extent are they guilty? To the reader falls the moral challenge of condemning them or, possibly, forgiving them.
With the power and sensibilities that characterize all of her fiction to date, Laura Restrepo here illuminates the ethical complexities of transgression through a disturbingly original narrative, sometimes deeply troubling but also touchingly human. Each sin carries its corresponding guilt, of course, but also its mysterious potential for release.