Santiago Gamboa: Necrópolis (Necropolis)

The latest addition to my website is Santiago Gamboa‘s Necrópolis (Necropolis). This is one of the two of his novels that has been translated into English. The narrator, known only as EH, is a Colombian writer just recovering from a long, serious illness, who is invited to a conference held by the International Congress on Biography and Memory in Jerusalem. The conference features other writers, though mainly non-fiction writers, whose biographies, he says, seem straight out of a Tennessee Williams play. Various writers present either what are essentially their own autobiographies or the stories of other people. One man, José Maturana, tells a story of how he was in prison when he was essentially rescued by a man called Walter de la Salle, a former drug user who had inherited money and started running a mission, often helping prisoners. José joined his mission and worked with him but it all went badly, ending in a shoot-out with the police, Walter disappearing and José and Jessica, the other key member, moving on. The day after his talk, José is found in his hotel room, his wrists slashed. EH does not believe it is suicide and, together with an Icelandic journalist, he investigates. Meanwhile, the situation in Jerusalem – the necropolis of the title – is becoming untenable with bomb attacks, rockets and so on battering the city and battering the hotel. It is both a grim but highly complex novel, dealing with literature, death, finding meaning in life, politics, religion and, of course, sex and drugs.

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