Picture of author.

Eduardo Sánchez Rugeles

Author of Blue Label / Etiqueta Azul (Spanish Edition)

9 Works 38 Members 5 Reviews 1 Favorited

About the Author

Image credit: Photography of Eduardo Sánchez Rugeles by Inírida Gómez-Castro

Works by Eduardo Sánchez Rugeles


Common Knowledge

Canonical name
Sánchez Rugeles, Eduardo
Other names
Sanz, Lautaro
Caracas, Venezuela
Places of residence
Madrid, Spain
Universidad Católica Andrés Bello (BA - Literature, MA - Philosophy, MA - Latin American Studies, MA - Literary Studies)
Awards and honors
Premio de la Crítica a la Novela (Venezuela 2012, Venezuela 2010)
Short biography
Eduardo Sánchez Rugeles was born in Caracas on December 16, 1977. He has worked as writer, screenwriter and teacher. He is a member of the Venezuelan Diaspora, a generation of Venezuelan writers and intellectuals who in the last two decades have left the country as a consequence of the political and economic turmoil under the so-called Bolivarian Revolution currently ruling the country. He earned a Bachelor of Arts from the Andrés Bello Catholic University (2003), a BA in Philosophy from the Universidad Central de Venezuela (2005), a MA in Latin American Studies from the Autonomous University of Madrid (2009) and MA in Literary Studies from the Complutense University of Madrid (2010). For many years he contributed to ReLectura a well known Venezuelan Blog. He has been a resident of Madrid, Spain, since 2007.



Real Rating: 4.25* of five, rounded up for the pleasures of reading this translation

The Publisher Says: A sudden catastrophe in Europe exposes the slow-motion destruction of a generation of Venezuelans and their struggle against repression.

In The Lisbon Syndrome, a disaster annihilates Portugal's capital. In Caracas, Lisbon's sister city and home to many thousands of Portuguese, few details filter through the censored state media.

Fernando runs a theater program for young people in Caracas, teaching and performing classics like Macbeth and Mother Courage. His benefactor, Old Moreira, is a childless Portuguese immigrant who recalls the Lisbon of his youth. Fernando's students suffer from what they begin to call "the Lisbon syndrome," an acute awareness that there are no possibilities left for them in a country devastated by a murderous, criminal regime. A series of confrontations between demonstrators and government forces draw the students and their teacher toward danger. One disappears into the state secret prisons where dissidents are tortured. The arts center that was their sanctuary is attacked, and Fernando is pulled into the battle in the streets.

The Lisbon Syndrome is the most trenchant contemporary novel to offer a glimpse of life and death in Venezuela. But Sánchez Rugeles's bleak vision is lightened by his wry humor, and by characters who show us the humanity behind stark headlines.


My Review
?: The Lisbon Syndrome, in this novel, is defined as "...knowing that the things we love are finite, knowing that there is no tomorrow, knowing that we won’t have enough time to do anything worthwhile, that we will disappear without leaving any kind of mark, because we don’t matter to anyone, because our existence has no relevance." It sounds like a variation on saudade to my old-white-guy ears...but the key to the novel is this sense of existential irrelevance.

It's hard not to see the Syndrome all over the post-January 6th world. It's amazing to me how Author Sánchez Rugeles built this sense of the fruitlessness of expecting change to come and simultaneously supporting the acts of making the world however much better you can where you are, using what you have. A schoolteacher whose wife leaves him in the midst of the awful disasters that follow an asteroid obliterating Lisbon uses drama, à la Station Eleven, to instill humanistic values in...anyone, everyone, especially young anyones. It's exactly what one would expect from a somewhat ineffectual intellectual. It makes a positive difference, too. And that draws attention from the Powers That Be—never a good thing. There is, at the end of Author Sánchez Rugeles's rainbow, a pot of fool's gold guarded by a troop of evil sidhe. Yet the point, the salient characteristic, of this story is Hope. Big, capital-H Hope, the kind that comes from recognizing that yes, it's hopeless, people are bastards and the ruling class is scum, but Sra. Gomez needs help with her garden and little Pepita needs eyeglasses so get it in gear and fix the small things.

Brutal world events and brutal governmental responses to them make this a sometimes disheartening read. "How much more can a human endure?!" I asked myself more than once in these seven chapters. The truth is: A lot more. The novel's inspiration was the astonishingly awful year, 2017, when the Venezuelans threw themselves a constitutional crisis and an acceleration of the protests ongoing since 2014. This explainer will give you some context, if you're curious, but the simple truth is that Author Sánchez Rugeles is fictionalizing, not reportage-ing.

I'm pretty sure a lot of you are staring at the screen wondering if I've lost my mind recommending this read to wobbly weary North Americans in the midst of an unfolding crisis of our own. Permaybehaps. But I'm not doing so in the "eat-your-spinach" Savonarola-of-storytelling mode. I think Translator Paul Filev has done an extraordinarily good job of making this Spanish-to-English story clearly and succinctly Author Sánchez Rugeles's story while imbuing it with English-language prosody of clarity, compactness, and elegance. The subverbal vocalizations of the lines are rhythmic and the sounds of the words used are poetic in the best sense of the word.

Why, when the novel's set in Caracas, is the title The Lisbon Syndrome, and why is the catastrophe that has changed the city set in Lisbon? I'm speculating when I say this, but to me, the sizable Portuguese community in Caracas and its reason for being...Portugal's long, tortuous fascist dictatorship resulting in lots of exiles, which was ended by a revolution that caused chaos and produced more emigrants...gave the author his loud echoes of modern Venezuela and its convulsions.

While it's possible that your battle-weary eyes might not get aimed at such a dark corner of our literary world, I'm here to say I hope you'll visit Author Sánchez Rugeles's "believe me, bad as it is, it could be worse!" story universe. He's done post-apocalyptic fiction right.
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richardderus | 1 other review | Jul 27, 2022 |
The Lisbon Syndrome is a fascinating read set in more or less present-day Venezuela and in our current world—except for the fact that Lisbon has been destroyed by an asteroid and all the usual complexities of life in Venezuela are further complicated by resulting lack of sunlight due to the heavy particle load in the atmosphere.

Our narrator, Fernando is a part-time teacher at two high schools. He also runs an after-school community theatre for teens. The group's choice of plays has always been influenced by a desire to comment on political repression within Venezuela. Now, in the ongoing winter of the asteroid disaster that oppression is become fiercer at the same time that the teens involved with the theater are becoming more determined to speak out, to risk their own safety, and to engage in more violent forms of resistance.

Watching Fernando navigate his changed world and sharing his thoughts as he adjusts to his his new reality offers a committed, thoughtful perspective, though one that can be blind to the ramifications of some of the events around him. He respects his students' growing resistance to oppression, but also discourages it because of its potential consequences. He knows how narrow the opportunities that face them are in Venezuela, but also keeps trying to convince them (and himself) that they have a hope at accomplishing goals for their own lives that involve meaningful work and a shot at upward mobility.

The book reaches its climax at a moment when Fernando is forced to move beyond his observation of his students' lives to a consideration of what he is and isn't willing to do in pursuit of social justice.

This is the kind of alternative reality title that forces readers to look more closely at the reality they currently inhabit and to ask themselves difficult questions with both local and global implications. If you enjoy titles that challenge your ethical and intellectual norms, this is a title you will will want to read—and may likely wind up reading more than once.

I received a free electronic review copy of this title from the publisher via EdelweissPlus; the opinions are my own.
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Sarah-Hope | 1 other review | May 25, 2022 |
En jerga venezolana: esta vaina si es buena. Una historia venezolanisima, de esas que marcan y no se olvidan, que sin tapujos nos muestra lo que significó crecer en la Venezuela de los 80s y 90s. Que particularmente me tocó de manera personal, porque lo recuerdo todo, porque lo viví todo y lo sigo viviendo: la ilusión de la tierra prometida, el inicio de la Revolución, el paro petrolero, la tragedia de Vargas, el estancamiento y, sobretodo, la involución.

"En el resto del mundo dos años puede ser un lapso razonable, un tiempo de reflexión, de espera; pero en Venezuela dos años son una tortura. Los días no pasan, todo es lo mismo, siempre es lo mismo, la universidad es mediocre, la ciudad es mediocre, tus amigos son mediocres. No hay agua, no hay luz, las autopistas se caen a pedazos. No lo soporto. Todos los días me lo pregunto: ¿qué coño hago yo aquí? ¿Estudiando? Tienes que ver en lo que se ha convertido esa universidad. Más que aprender, en los últimos años he olvidado las cuatro cosas que sabía."

Todo esto cimentado en el secreto a voces mas grande de Venezuela: el desarraigo.

"El mal es Venezuela. A ese país deberían dinamitarlo, lanzarle una bomba atómica. El infierno está en la Tierra y queda en Caracas, es así. Yo lo sé. (...) A nosotros Caracas nos hizo ser los infelices que somos.Perdimos el partido porque nacimos ahí, nunca tuvimos una oportunidad de nada. Nuestro tren pasó, Gabriel, y lo dejamos pasar. Lo dejamos pasar porque nos enseñaron que ninguno de esos trenes era para nosotros, porque nos dijeron que teníamos que echarle bolas caminando y, lo peor, nos dijeron que caminar era de pinga.

Nuestra generación no vale ni media mierda. Nosotros perdimos. Heredamos una idea de país arrechísimo, una vaina con real, con petróleo, con culos, con futuro pero todo fue un bluff, todo era pura paja."

Pero también muestra el dolor de tener que abandonar tu país, a tu gente. El sentimiento imperioso -pero triste- de todos los jóvenes (incluyéndome) de que para surgir hay irse.

"Yo sabía perfectamente que esa ciudad estaba maldita. Sabía que la vida no tenía valor; que, en cualquier momento, una bala perdida podía destrozarme la cabeza; que mi fallecimiento sería solo una gélida cifra en una estadística inútil e incompleta. Sabía que el poder estaba en manos de un grupo de mercenarios. Creí saber tantas cosas… Pero, maldita sea, cómo me dolió partir; qué difícil fue entrar a Maiquetía con la certidumbre de la fuga, con el decreto de expulsión, con el título nobiliario de extranjero."

Es imposible leer esto sin conmoverse, sin sentirse identificado, sin que te duela tu país. Este libro es un retrato de la Venezuela contemporánea, que incluye, además, elementos de thriller, misterio, amor, comedia negra y mucha locura; haciendo de Liubliana, un excelente instrumento de reflexión, uno de los mejores libros que he leído y una lectura obligada para todos los venezolanos.
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Glire | 1 other review | Jun 22, 2016 |



½ 4.4