Evelio Rosero Diago, a Colombian author, spun a remarkable tale about this notorious leader in the history of American politics- Simon Bolivar, in his book, La carroza de Bolívar , which is translated by Anne McLean, and Anna Milsom and the translated version is called, Feast of the Innocents .
Doctor Justo Pastor Proceso Lopez, adored by his female patients but despised by his wife and daughters, has a burning ambition: to prove to the world that the myth of Simon Bolivar, El Libertador, is a sham and a scandal. In Pasto, south Colombia, where the good doctor plies his trade, the Feast Day of the Holy Innocents is dawning. A day for pranks, jokes and soakings … Water bombs, poisoned empanaditas, ground glass in the hog roast – anything goes. What better day to commission a float for The Black and White Carnival that will explode the myth of El Libertador once and for all? One that will lay bare the massacres, betrayals and countless deflowerings that history has forgotten. But in Colombia you question the founding fables at your peril. At the frenzied peak of the festivities, drunk on a river of arguardiente, Doctor Justo will discover that this year the joke might just be on him.
The story is set in San Juan de Pasto, which is the capital of the department of Nariño, located in southwestern Colombia. If you are a Colombian and have visited Pasto in the past, then this book might be an easy read for them, but those who don’t know about Pasto or have never visited Pasto, for them this book will be a very difficult one to read.
And indeed it was. Tongue-twisting names of cities, places, people, food and drinks.
It feels like you’re reading a bad history book and after a while I had to put it down as I wasn’t able to tell who was who anymore.
You learn about the history of Liberator and Simon Bolivar.
It wasn’t until after page 150 or so (so more than halfway through) that I really started to “get it”.
There is a gynecologist who is trying to show the real truth behind the Liberator by writing the autobiography of Simon Bolivar. And then on the other hand, there is the story of Bolivar whose evil acts were contradicted by the historian, José Rafael Sanudo, thus arousing national anger with his published works about Bolivar. Bolivar had always been an evil politician in the face of the Liberator who commanded the first slaughter of civilians in Colombia. The author Rosero wrote this book with the aim to vindicate the memory of José Rafael Sanudo, in the form of a doctor who builds a chariot in memory of Bolivar pulled by twelve princesses during the Carnival in Pasto, thus enraging the people of Pasto.
So this might not be the best introduction to Evelio Rosero’s work (the unrelentingly bleak yet monumental “The Armies” still takes the cake, followed closely by the darkly satirical “Good Offices”). But if you’re interested in Colombian literature or Latin American history, then this is definitely a worthwhile read.
For me, it’s going in the ever increasing burn pile.