In the middle of a grey, snowy day what better way to warm up than reading a book from Latin America? At least that was the main reason I bought and read “The Sound of Things Falling” written by Juan Gabriel Vásquez. I was in for a not so pleasant surprise.
Yes, the book takes place in Colombia, during and after Pablo Escobar’s reign of terror. Yes it does give you a warm feeling…for about ten pages.
A short description of the “Sound of Things Falling”
The main character of the story, or so it seems for the first part of a book, is a young man, Antonio, an up and coming Law Professor, who has an affair with one of his students and gets her pregnant. So far so good. In the meantime, Antonio befriends a strange loner, Ricardo, at the pool halls he often frequents after or between classes. He becomes enticed by Ricardo’s past (he was in jail for a good part of his life) and his wife, an American native, which Ricardo loves greatly, that is about to return to Bogota. Only that one day, on the day of his wife’s return to Colombia, Ricardo comes with a strange cassette to Antonio. He gets desperate for Antonio to help him find a way to listen to the tape. After he listens to the tape, Ricardo quickly leaves with Antonio pursuing him closely. Out of nowhere, shots get fired, killing Ricardo and severely injuring Antonio.
The saddest thing that can happen to a person is to find out their memories are lies.
After he gets better, Antonio becomes obsessed with Ricardo. His life changes one day when he receives a mysterious phone call from Ricardo’s daughter. They meet, and everything is explained.
Final Badgery thoughts
Besides the feeling of despair and desolation of the people of Colombia during the Pablo Escobar years, that is beautifully transposed in the book; I found it to be a bit boring. Maybe it was too philosophical for me, but I can’t say that I was left wanting more. In my opinion, it was a mediocre book (even though it won the Dublin Literary Award in 2014) with unilateral characters that at the end didn’t really say that much to me. The love stories were predictable, the plot lacked suspense and all in all it is not a book I would recommend to a friend.