The second book I finished in 2016 is the first novel by Argentine author Edgardo Holzman entitled Malena. Malena is the name of a central character as well as the name of a well-known Tango. This was a haunting book examining the repressive regime in Argentina in the late 1970s and early 1980s through its impact on one American diplomat working in Washington and Argentina. Having traveled some in Argentina I appreciated the author’s vivid descriptions which give a palpable impression of the country.
Kevin Solorzano, an interpreter, and Diego Fioravanti, a member of the Argentine military, both seek the affections of a young woman named Ines. Their inter-connections weave through the woman Malena and draw on elements of brutality and repression from the past and heightening tension in the present. With vivid side characters to fill in a growing picture of oppression that spans both Argentina and the United States, the men and women of Holzman’s novel rush headlong toward a future more complicated and dangerous than they could have imagined. At times the novel seems to get away from Holzman as the tapestry he is weaving contains almost more elements than he can adequately explore; nonetheless I had trouble putting this one down as I read through the final 100 pages and into the devastating ending.
This is Holzman’s first novel and though it is flawed in some of its execution the story and characters linger after finishing the book. I expect in time to read other Holzman novels as he continues honing his craft.