The Feast of the Goat / Mario Vargas Llosa ; translated from the Spanish by Edith Grossman.
Booklist Monthly Selections - #1 July 2001
/*Starred Review*/ True to the maxim that Latin American fiction reflects Latin Americans' preoccupation with history and politics, the latest novel by the Peruvian master is, like Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, a powerfully drawn anatomy of tyranny and tyrannicide. Vargas Llosa re-envisions the Dominican Republic in 1961, at the time of the assassination of infamous Dominican strongman Rafael ("the Goat") Trujillo, whose death brought his 30-year highly oppressive regime crashing down in flames. The central paradox of the efficient, effective dictator--Trujillo and others of his ilk--is that while the country benefits materially, it also pays a high cost in loss of freedom. Vargas Llosa factors that irony into his provocative resurrection of the loved and hated Trujillo. The author frames his elaborate, authentically detailed tapestry with the parallel but contemporary story of Urania Cabral, now a successful attorney in New York, who returns to her native Dominican Republic after an absence of more than three decades. Urania's father, who still lives in the capital, although virtually incapacitated by a stroke, numbered among Trujillo's inner circle before being shockingly discredited. With mesmerizing elan, Vargas Llosa alternates between these two time periods, not only achieving a full-blown, even sensitive portrait of Trujillo, his underlings, and his assassins but also piecing together Urania's relationship with her father, a tale that leads to a devastating revelation that will pierce the reader's heart. The two story lines encircle each other, draw power from one another, and together amount to an irresistible masterpiece. ((Reviewed July 2001))Copyright 2001 Booklist Reviews
LJ Reviews 2001 July #1
Here, the politically savvy Vargas Llosa has an important tale to tell: he reconstructs the final days of the Dominican Republic's aging dictator, Rafael Trujillo also known as "the goat." Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
LJ Reviews 2001 September #1
Vargas Llosa's fictional portrait of ruthless Dominican Republic dictator Rafael Trujillo focuses on the end of the old "goat's" life. Trujillo, who well understood that his power depended upon the United States, is said to have sought his protection and promotion by paying Congressmen and other U.S. "leeches" the equivalent of the annual military aid his nation received from Washington. Although the United States eventually got fed up with his excesses, its fear of a second Communist regime in the Caribbean kept him in power. So entirely ruthless was Trujillo that he even dispatched his physician off the docks of Santo Domingo, at the time named Ciudad Trujillo, when he was told that his prostate was cancerous. Vargas Llosa relates Trujillo's story from the perspective of Urania Cabral, a successful New York lawyer who has spent a lifetime in exile but returns to her homeland when the tyrant is finally murdered. Urania hopes to rid herself of the demons that have possessed her since 1961, when as a teenager she was battered and humiliated by the impotent and vindictive old dictator. Vargas Llosa, one of Latin America's master storytellers, has retold this nightmare with evenhanded eloquence and exuberant detail. Recommended for all but squeamish readers. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 7/01.] Jack Shreve, Allegany Coll. of Maryland, Cumberland Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
PW Reviews 2001 July #5
"This wasn't an enemy he could defeat like the hundreds, the thousands he had confronted and conquered over the years, buying them, intimidating them, killing them." So thinks Rafael Trujillo, "the Goat," dictator of the Dominican Republic, on the morning of May 30, 1961 a day that will end in his assassination. The "enemy" is old age at 70, Trujillo, who has always prided himself on his grooming and discipline, is shaken by bouts of incontinence and impotence. Vargas Llosa divides his narrative between three different story lines. The first concerns Urania Cabral, the daughter of one of Trujillo's closest associates, Agustfn Cabral. She is 14 at the time of the Trujillo assassination and, as we gradually discover, was betrayed by her father to Trujillo. Since then, she has lived in the U.S. At 49, she impulsively returns on a visit and slowly reveals the root of her alienation. Urania's character is a little too pat, however. Vargas Llosa's triumph is Trujillo's story. We follow the sly, vile despot, with his petty rages, his lust, his dealings with his avaricious family, through his last day, with mingled feelings of repulsion and awe. Like Stalin, Trujillo ruled by turning his rage without warning against his subordinates. Finally, Vargas Llosa crosscuts Urania's story and Trujillo's with that of Trujillo's assassins; first, as they wait to ambush him, and then as they are tracked down, captured and tortured to death, with almost medieval ferocity, by Trujillo's son, Ramfis. Gathering power as it rolls along, this massive, swift-moving fictional take on a grim period in Dominican history shows that Vargas Llosa is still one of the world's premier political novelists. (Nov.) Forecast: Vargas Llosa is on solid ground with The Day of the Goat, mining a rich vein. The former Peruvian presidential candidate's author tour should attract crowds, and a striking jacket will seduce browsers. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.