Santiago Gamboa: Vida feliz de un joven llamado Esteban [Happy Life of a Young Man Called Esteban]


The latest addition to my website is Santiago Gamboa‘s Vida feliz de un joven llamado Esteban [Happy Life of a Young Man Called Esteban]. This is a quasi-autobiographical novel (i.e. told in an autobiographical style, with some autobiographical references). We follow the life of Esteban Hinestroza, a young man who is currently working as journalist for the French government in Paris, but who tells us of his life in Colombia (with stops in Rome and Madrid). What makes it somewhat different are the extensive stories of others, who have a perhaps more colourful life than Esteban, with one joining the Colombian guerrillas and another involved in reincarnation. However, we also follow Colombian history, from the assassination of Jorge Eliécer Gaitán, well before Esteban was born, to the fall-out from that event, which eventually led to the guerilla war in Colombia. Esteban generally has a happy life, as the title tells us, with the usual ups and downs, so, while Gamboa tells the story well, I felt that this book lacked that certain je ne sais quoi, despite its reputation in Latin America and the fact that it has been translated into French, German and Italian (but not, of course, into English).

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