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Lost City Radio by Daniel Alarcón

Lost City Radio (2007)

by Daniel Alarcón

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
Impressive novel that deals with the personal toll civil war takes on individuals. It is part dystopia, but clearly inspired by Peruvian (and more generally American nations) history with internal violence. Norma's effort to sort through the disinformation and the temptation we all feel to accept the more comfortable lie that the bitter truth strikes an authentic note. I'll keep an eye out for more from Alarcon. ( )
  ProfH | Jan 13, 2017 |
The novel is an account of the civil war in Peru during the 1980s, but Alarcón casts the story into a bewildering allegorical register. The country where the action is set is never named, and the government has replaced all city names with a number system, an Orwellian move to destroy the people's historical memory. The narrative centers on a radio talk show host named Norma, whose program, Lost City Radio, is dedicated to helping people find friends and relatives that disappeared during the war. I thought the novel really picked up steam as it went along, and it the final image haunted my dreams after I finished it last night. ( )
  jalbacutler | Jan 10, 2017 |
In an unnamed city in an unnamed South American country, Norma is the beloved on-air host of “Lost City Radio,” where the nation’s lost and tormented souls try to reconnect with loved ones they’ve lost track of. It is ten years since the most recent civil war ended – at least officially. But people still live in fear of reprisal and even Norma’s show isn’t immune to the sort of self-censorship that comes from self-preservation. Norma’s husband is among the missing, and she daren’t read his name aloud.

The powerful thing about this book is that it is so universal. While it takes place in South America, it could take place in many countries around the world. Alarcon explores what it means to live in constant fear, trusting no one, afraid that any small slip of the tongue may mark you as the enemy or a collaborator, leaving you second-guessing every small gesture or the posture of that stranger on the street you’ve seen once too often recently. His use of the orphan boy, Victor, to trigger the memories of the adults he comes across is an effective technique. For like most children, Victor’s needs are simple and immediate. He doesn’t understand the larger implications of his mission to take a list of missing from his small mountain village to the large city radio station. He only knows that he is alone, and that this is his chance to find his father.

Alarcon mixes tenses fluidly and sometimes within one paragraph. A remark or smell will trigger a memory and the text follows the character’s wandering mind as he or she remembers something that happened in the past. Then, just as suddenly as awakening from a dream, the action is back in the present and we are back on the bus headed for the city, or back in the café having lunch. It sounds as if this would be very confusing, but Alarcon is skilled at making this device work wonderfully.

In the end, only the reader knows what happened to one missing person, while being left to wonder what will happen to the many.
( )
  BookConcierge | Jan 13, 2016 |
Lost City Radio by Peruvian writer Daniel Alarcón is a haunting and tragic story set during the recent aftermath of a brutal civil war that tore apart an unnamed country in South America. Norma hosts a radio program called Lost City Radio. Each night she goes on the air and reads the names of people who went missing or were displaced by the war. The names are provided by her legions of loyal listeners from throughout the country who live in the hope that by having the names read on the radio they will be reunited with their missing loved ones. Occasionally reunions take place, and Norma’s producer stages these during the show for maximum dramatic effect. Norma has kept her own desperate and fading hope alive for ten years: the hope that her husband Rey, who went missing in the final days of the war, will return to her. However, she cannot safely utter his name on the air because, as an accused rebel collaborator, he is still officially wanted by the authorities, and this is a country where a vigilant and uneasy government is always watching and listening. Everything changes when a boy named Victor arrives at the station after a lengthy journey from his home—an obscure village in the forest—bearing a list of names for Norma to read, a list that includes Rey. Rey, a biologist with a fascination for medicinal plants, visited the forest often, and as Norma gains Victor’s trust the boy reveals things about Rey’s time in the forest that Norma never suspected and which change her perspective on the past she shared with him. Alarcón’s narrative cleverly reconstructs Rey’s past piece by piece as Norma learns more of his activities while in the forest and as she recalls the intimacy of their early courtship and eventual marriage. Alarcón evokes a tense post-war society where danger lurks around every corner and no one is truly safe. Lost City Radio is a suspenseful and powerful novel, one that builds to an explosive climax, and in the process depicts in frightening and agonizing detail the human cost of war. ( )
  icolford | Nov 24, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Daniel Alarcónprimary authorall editionscalculated
Garcia, AntonioAuthor photosecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nishimura, HistoshiCover photosecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
O'Meara, JoyDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wijnands, Jochem D.Cover photosecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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It is the people who are executed and the people who make up the firing squad; the people are both vague randomness and precise law. There are no tricks, nor can there be (Carlos Monsivais)

Javier Antonio Alarcón Guzmán

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They took Norma off the air that Tuesday morning because a boy was dropped off at the station.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0060594799, Hardcover)

'Lost City Radio' is a poignant and deeply moving novel from a promising new author, which looks intensely at war's damaging effect on society and the individual. Ever since the civil war that took her husband ended, Norma has been the voice of consolation to a people broken by violence. Every week, bereft families listen to her radio show as she reads out the names of the missing, those who vanished in the clamour and brutality of the drawn-out conflict, with the hope of reuniting the few survivors with their families. Successes are few; her true gift is the offer of hope. Although her face is unknown to her listeners, her name and spirit are celebrated by a wayward nation searching for a guiding force. But her life is forever changed when a young boy from a jungle village enters her radio studio and provides a connection to the husband she thought lost -- the husband she has not seen for ten years since departing for the war. Her story and those tangled up in it reveal a country in flux, desperately seeking signs of life, and reasons to continue, amongst pain and uncertainty. Stunning, timely, powerful and absolutely mesmerizing, 'Lost City Radio' probes the deepest questions of war: from its wide reaching affect on a society to its intimate emotional impact on every person involved. This searing yet tender first novel marks Alarcon's emergence as a new voice in American fiction, fully-formed and ready to be heard.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:00:14 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

"For ten years, Norma has been the voice of consolation for a people broken by violence. She hosts Lost City Radio, the most popular program in their nameless South American country, gripped in the aftermath of war. Every week, the Indians in the mountains and the poor from the barrios listen as she reads the names of those who have gone missing, those whom the furiously expanding city has swallowed. Loved ones are reunited and the lost are found. Each week, she returns to the airwaves while hiding her own personal loss: her husband disappeared at the end of the war." "But the life she has become accustomed to is forever changed when a young boy arrives from the jungle and provides a clue to the fate of her long-missing husband." "Lost City Radio probes the deepest questions of war and its meaning: from its devastating impact on a society transformed by violence to the emotional scarring each participant, observer, and survivor carries for years after."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

» see all 4 descriptions

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