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Purgatory

by Tomas Eloy Martinez

This novel intrigues from the start, with the mysterious re-appearance of Emilia’s husband after a 30 year absence, since his arrest as a 'subversive' under Argentina’s military regime. Is this a ghost story? Can Emilia, haunted by memories and longing, be a reliable witness? Or is it all a figment of her imagination? Though not quite magical realism, the ambiguous, elusive nature of the narrative keeps us mystified, and compelled to find out.

Extract

For years, you've lived in exile, moving from place to place, Emilia; you think you know what it is, but you couldn't begin to explain it, there are no stories, no words in this desolate terrain because everything within you remained outside the moment you crossed the threshold. You might say that at that moment you entered purgatory, if what came before was hell .... No one returns from exile. What you forsake, forsakes you.

Parallels

Invisible by Paul Auster
Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende
 

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