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The Sound of Things Falling by Juan Gabriel…
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The Sound of Things Falling

by Juan Gabriel Vásquez

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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6894321,369 (3.81)80
No sooner does he get to know Ricardo Laverde than disaffected young Colombian lawyer Antonio Yammara realizes that his new friend has a secret, or rather several secrets. Antonio's fascination with the life of ex-pilot Ricardo Laverde begins by casual acquaintance in a seedy Bogotá billiard hall and grows until the day Ricardo receives a cassette tape in an unmarked envelope. Asking Antonio to find him somewhere private to play it, they go to a library. The first time he glances up from his seat in the next booth, Antonio sees tears running down Laverde's cheeks; the next, the ex-pilot has gone. Shortly afterwards, Ricardo is shot dead on a street corner in Bogotá by a guy on the back of a motorbike and Antonio is caught in the hail of bullets. Lucky to survive, and more out of love with life than ever, he starts asking questions until the questions become an obsession that leads him to Laverde's daughter. His troubled investigation leads all the way back to the early 1960s, marijuana smuggling and a time before the cocaine trade trapped a whole generation of Colombians in a living nightmare of fear and random death.… (more)
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» See also 80 mentions

English (34)  Spanish (5)  Dutch (3)  Italian (1)  Norwegian (1)  All languages (44)
Showing 1-5 of 34 (next | show all)
Expertly wrought, very sad novel about contemporary Colombian life. The protagonist is caught up in a tragedy when he is accidentally shot during the murder of an acquaintance. As he learns more and more about his friend’s life, he comes to understand how the continual violence visited on Bogota during the decades long drug war has taken its toll on every citizen, including him. Beautifully written. Definitely makes me want to check out more by Vásquez. ( )
1 vote jalbacutler | Jan 14, 2018 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
The story is set in Bogotá, Colombia and the reader learns that much of the city is recovering from severe PTSD. Citizens who lived through the Eighties in the time of Pablo Escobar have symptoms not unlike war veterans, having spent a decade living in fear, not going out to public places, restaurants, cafes, etc. and never knowing when a family member or friend would go missing. The narrator grew up in the era and suffers irrational fears and despair after he is wounded while walking with his friend Roberto who is shot and killed, leaving him obsessed with trying to understand the death from the man's surviving daughter. The book becomes a mystery tale and spurs the reader on to discover what happened. The writing is beautiful in translation. Kudos to Anne McLean - I want to read more of her translations and am looking at The Anatomy of a Moment: Thirty-Five Minutes in History and Imagination. One memorable setting of the ruined and abandoned animal park/zoo owned by the drug lord is so real you can hear the squeak of a broken sign hanging by one hinge in the oppressive ever-present heat. The pace is almost dreamy for the first section of the story but picks up rapidly moving forward to other events, further puzzles.
A favorite quotation from the book:
"There is just one direct route beween La Dorada and Bogotá...You turn south and take the straight road that runs by the river that takes you to Honda, the port where travelers used to arrive when no planes flew over the Andes. From London, from New York, from Havana, Colón or Barranquilla, they would arrive by sea at the mouth of the Magdalena and change ship there...long days of sailing upriver on tired steamships...From Honda, each traveler would get to Bogotá however he could, by mule or by train or in a private car...no one has able to explain convincingly, beyond banal historical causes, why a country should choose as its capital its most remote and hidden city. It's not our fault that we Bogotanos are stuffy and cold and distant, because that's what our city is like, and you can't blame us for greeting strangers warily, for we're not used to them." ( )
1 vote featherbooks | Sep 3, 2016 |
I really enjoyed the start of this book, set in Columbia. Our narrator, Antonio, looks back twenty years ago when he met the mysterious Ricardo La Verde in a local billiards hall. They have a strange friendship ... but it is only after Ricardo is shot dead, and Antonio injured in the process, that Antonio travels to meet Ricardo's daughter and finds out the truth about his friend.
I was disappointed in this book when it finished it - it promised so much but didn't deliver. The section where we find out about the past just didn't work for me, and the end left too many loose threads. ( )
  AHouseOfBooks | Jan 27, 2016 |
This book was really well written and the story was engaging, but I didn't love it. It was nice to read Latin American fiction that wasn't magical realism. 3.5 stars. ( )
  klburnside | Aug 11, 2015 |
This book works on a couple levels, as an engaging mystery/thriller, but also as a more literary exploration of what societal violence does on a personal level to the families and individuals who survive it. It's also a very helpful introduction to Colombian history for a reader that has little previous exposure. That's because the author has woven the story around a bunch of actual historical events - the 1934 Colombia-Peru War; the 1938 Santa Ana air show disaster; the rise of first marijuana and then cocaine trafficking; a 1995 air crash. It's not necessary to perceive these as real events to appreciate the story, but it does offer an additional level of depth. The narrator, who nearly loses his own life as collateral damage when an acquaintance is killed, spends much of the novel figuring out why the killing happened; but also seems trapped in the trauma, unable to move his life forward in a variety of ways. Without giving away the ending, the novel concludes with an interestingly ambiguous suggestion of what will happen next. ( )
  bezoar44 | May 13, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 34 (next | show all)
A gripping novel, absorbing right to the end, “The Sound of Things Falling” concerns a young professor of jurisprudence named Antonio who plays billiards every afternoon in Bogotá to unwind after delivering his lecture. In the billiard hall, he befriends a frail older man, Laverde, who, it is rumored, has only recently been released from prison. Standing out in the street, they’re shot at by two men on a passing motorbike. Laverde is killed and Antonio severely wounded.
added by ozzer | editNew York Times, EDMUND WHITE (Aug 1, 2013)
 

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Juan Gabriel Vásquezprimary authorall editionscalculated
Coopmans, BrigitteTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gugnon, IsabelleTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McLean, AnneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
And the walls of my dream burning, toppling, like a city collapsing in screams. -- Aurelio Arturo, "Dream City"

So you fell out of the sky too! What planet are you from? -- Antoine de Saint-Exupery, The Little Prince
Dedication
For Mariana, inventor of spaces and time
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The first hippopotamus, a male the color of black pearls, weighing a ton and a half, was shot dead in the middle of 2009.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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