Sound of Things Falling (Vasquez)

Book Reviews
Juan Gabriel Vasquez's brilliant new novel rejects the vivid colors and mythical transformations of [Garcia Marquez's] Caribbean masterpiece, One Hundred Years of Solitude, in favor of the cold, bitter poetry of Bogota and the hushed intensity of young married love…A gripping novel, absorbing right to the end…The Sound of Things Falling...[is] also a deep meditation on fate and death. Even in translation, the superb quality of Vasquez's prose is evident, captured in Anne McLean's idiomatic English version. All the novel's characters are well imagined, original and rounded. Bogota and the Colombian countryside are beautifully if grimly described.
Edmund White - New York Times Book Reivew


Like Bolano, [Vasquez] is a master stylist and a virtuoso of patient pacing and intricate structure, and he uses the novel for much the same purpose that Bolaño did: to map the deep, cascading damage done to our world by greed and violence and to concede that even love can’t repair it.
Lev Grossman - Time


Vasquez creates characters whose memories resonate powerfully across an ingeniously interlocking structure.... Vasquez creates a compelling literary work—one where an engaging narrative envelops poignant memories of a fraught historical period
New Republic
 

Quietly elegant… Vasquez is a resourceful storyteller. Scenes and dialogue shine with well-chosen details. His theme echoes compellingly through family parallels, ill-fated flights and even a recurring hippo motif. He shrugs off the long shadow of Gabriel Garcia Marquez with a gritty realism that has its own persuasive magic.
Bloomberg News


If you only read one book this month...
Esquire


(Starred review.) [T]his book is an exploration of the ways in which stories profoundly impact lives.... Yammara befriends enigmatic stranger Ricardo Laverde. One night, assassins on motorbikes open fire on the two, killing Laverde and seriously wounding Yammara.... Yammara eventually finds Laverde’s daughter....Together they lose themselves in stories of Laverde’s childhood....and as the puzzle of Laverde is pieced together, Yammara comes to realize just how thoroughly the stories of these other people are part of his own.
Publishers Weekly


(Starred review.) In this latest from Vasquez, law professor Antonio Yammara recalls befriending retired pilot and former convict Ricardo Laverde, who is later killed in a shooting in which Yammara is seriously wounded. The murder propels an extensive inquiry into Laverde's background.... Only near the very end do we discover Laverde's involvement in one of drug kingpin Pablo Escobar's drug cartels. Yet Vasquez does not emphasize the drug trafficking, instead focusing on poor choices and the role of memory in the retelling of events: "reality [is] adjusted to the memory we have of it." Verdict:... [a] genuine and magnificently written examination of memory's persistence.... —Lawrence Olszewski, OCLC Lib., Dublin, OH
Library Journal


An odd coincidence leads Antonio Yammara, a law professor and narrator of this novel...deep into the mystery of personality, both his own and especially that of Ricardo Laverde, a casual acquaintance of Yammara before he was gunned down on the streets of Bogota.... Yammara is... intrigued by Laverde's murder and wants to find out the mystery behind his life. His curiosity leads him circuitously to Laverde's relationship with Elena, his American wife [and] Maya Fritts, Laverde's daughter by Elena, who fills in some of the gaps in Yammara's knowledge.... [This] ambiguous borderland where things don't quite come into coherent focus is where most of the characters remain.
Kirkus Reviews

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