On Heroes and Tombs
Godine first published this towering work of Latin American literature in 1981, to a front page New York Times review. Now reissued in softcover with a new introduction, the book, often mentioned in the same breath as Borges, was praised by Camus and writers as various as Thomas Mann, Graham Greene, Pablo Neruda, Salman Rushdie, and Colm Tóibin. Sabato was an important political figure as well as a novelist, exposing the state terrorism of Argentina's "dirty war" while writing about everything from metaphysics to tango. On Heroes and Tombs is his masterpiece. In his obituary in 2011, the New York Times wrote, "In 1972, the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda listed Mr. Sabato among the Latin American writers who displayed 'greater vitality and imagination than anything since the great Russian novels' of the 19th century. On Heroes and Tombs, the story of a young man trying to find his way in life in Buenos Aires, is considered his most important work of fiction. But many people also know Mr. Sabato for his work in helping Argentina heal when democracy was restored in 1983 after seven years of military dictatorship." This book is woven around a violent crime: the scion of a prominent Argentinian family, Alejandra, shoots her father and burns herself alive over his corpse. The story shifts between perspectives to reveal the lives of those closest to her, telling of Martin, her troubled lover; Bruno, a writer who loved her mother; and Fernando, her father, who believes himself hunted by a secret, international organization of the blind. Exploring the tumult of Buenos Awes in the 1950s, Heroes illuminates its characters against burning churches and corporate greed. An examination of Argentinian history and culture, it reveals the country at every level, leading its reader into a world of passion, philosophy, and paranoia that still persists. Book jacket.
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