Not Quite Peru

Leo Turner

  • Lost City Radio by Daniel Alarcón
    Fourth Estate, 257 pp, £12.99, April 2007, ISBN 978 0 00 720051 1

The Maoist rebellion that raged through Peru during the 1980s and early 1990s is estimated to have claimed seventy thousand lives. The Shining Path was brutal in its methods, favouring summary executions and public butcherings. The state responded by providing local militias with arms and giving them the freedom to detain, torture and murder supposed rebels. The shadow of this conflict looms large over the career of the Peruvian-American writer Daniel Alarcón. Alarcón himself dislikes the label: ‘Peruvian-American,’ he has said, ‘is not a set of words that exists.’ Alarcón was born in Lima but grew up in the US; and the phrase, even if it shouldn’t exist, gives some indication of his disposition. He writes about the conflict, but with a degree of detachment. His fictions about war avoid specifics.

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