With its play-within-the-story, its assumed and/or mistaken identities, and the denouement’s eruption of violence, Daniel Alarcón’s second novel, At Night We Walk in Circles (Riverhead, $27.95), has the motifs and rhythms of a Shakespearean tragedy. It also has wit, romance, and sharp observations about life and politics in an unnamed Andean nation recovering from civil war, where a U.S. passport is “a magic carpet.” Maintaining a dual focus on the personal and the social, the novel follows the remnants of a radical (at least to the state) theater company. Diciembre goes on tour with its masterpiece, The Idiot President, a play that’s as much a statement about family as it is a political satire. Performing in rural venues that lack both stage and backstage, the players are always in character, and this is especially true for Nelson, the youngest of the troupe, who is compelled by a drug kingpin to impersonate the thug’s dead brother full-time, indefinitely, so the boy’s aging mother won’t know his fate. But Nelson panics as he loses sight of his own life, and when at last he breaks character, he finds he may have absorbed too much of his extended role ever to be himself again.
At Night We Walk in Circles - Daniel Alarcon
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: Riverhead Books - October 31st, 2013
Published: Riverhead Books - September 2nd, 2014