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Reputations (2013)

av Juan Gabriel Vásquez

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MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
2171296,252 (3.86)10
An influential political cartoonist is paid an unexpected visit by a young woman who upends his sense of personal history and forces him to reevaluate his life, work, and position in the world.
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engelska (6)  spanska (3)  nederländska (2)  franska (1)  Alla språk (12)
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“The memory has a marvellous capacity to remember the forgotten, its existence and its stalking, and thus allow us to stay alert when we don’t want to forget and forget when we choose to.”

Javier Mallarino is a political cartoonist, revered and respected by the public of Colombia, and feared by the ones who bow down to corruption. His influence is immense, his art is a weapon against all that is rotten. Now, the time has come to be honoured as he deserves. But all is not well. One of his daughter’s friends from childhood comes to visit him. Her presence brings back memories that are too painful to be remembered. But Samanta WANTS to remember. She deserves to know whether she had fallen victim of a horrific act and Javier realises that sometimes, a comic strip in a newspaper may have dubious repercussions.

Juan Gabriel Vasquez masterfully depicts the feverish desire and demand for justice, the nectar of acceptance by the public and the inevitable ‘’god’’ status within the community of a land where balance is sensitive and condemnation is so difficult and yet, so easy. The writer lets us into Javier’s mind and there we witness all his doubts, his fears and his satisfaction of helping an innocent soul find peace.

But is there peace? And where do the limits of criticising end? What happens when threats and fear enter your peaceful home because you are doing the work that the authorities are unable or unwilling to perform?

A magnificent novel by one of the most important writers of our times.

‘’It’s a poor sort of memory that only works backwards.’’

My reviews can also be found on https://theopinionatedreaderblog.wordpress.com/ ( )
  AmaliaGavea | Jun 26, 2020 |
Reputations is the story of a man who, upon entering his golden years, finds himself forced to examine his life through the lens of one specific choice. It raises complex ethical and philosophical questions but leaves them for the readers to answer. While short, it is both provocative and challenging.

I received a complimentary copy of this book via a Goodreads giveaway. Many thanks to all involved in providing me with this opportunity. ( )
  Zoes_Human | Nov 30, 2019 |
Smoothly, fluidly written. Exquisitely modulated humour and emotion. The kind of Good Writing that is seductive and soothing. The kind of writing that might lead one to think, "This is so profound". But it's basically rehashing some trite bourgeois concepts of art and politics, the personal vs political, without looking deeper at how memories and truth are collectively understood by the people, and how it is manipulated by the media. Will have to write a review of this, so I hope to flesh out some of these thoughts further.

(Review is available here.) ( )
  subabat | Mar 19, 2018 |
This is an incredibly intriguing short book.

Political cartoonist Javier Mallarino is at the zenith of his career in Bogata, Columbia. He has endured 40 years of political death threats, given up his dream of becoming a serious artist, and lost his wife and daughter who have fled from the man he has become.
But now he is being feted and even featured on a new postage stamp.

After the ceremony, a woman comes up to him. Was she molested in Mallarino's house 30 years ago when she was a child? Mallarino thought so, and with a political cartoon brought down the accused man, who committed suicide soon afterwards.

But what happened that night? What are the responsibilities of power? How true are memories? After all, as the White Queen said to Alice “It’s a poor sort of memory that only works backwards”. ( )
  streamsong | Jan 7, 2018 |
“It’s a poor sort of memory that only works backwards,” says the White Queen to Alice. In REPUTATIONS, Juan Gabriel Vasquez explores unreliable memories and the lengths we will go to validate them.

Javier Mallarino is a living legend in Columbia. As a political cartoonist, he is being honored as the conscience of the nation with his own postal stamp. His successful career rests on a reputation of speaking truth to power. Using his gift for characterization, he has been able to expose Columbian political corruption. People looked forward to his daily cartoons and his targets quickly came to realize that being mawked by Mallarino was a sign of celebrity.

His private life is somewhat less successful. He is divorced from Magdalena and estranged from his daughter, Beatrice. Due to constant threats, he has been forced to move from Bogatá to the surrounding mountains. Yet, in the final analysis, Javier enjoys a good life. That is until he receives a visit from a mysterious young woman, Samanta Leal, who intrudes into his lair under the guise of being a journalist seeking an interview. In fact, Samanta was a guest in his house 28 years earlier as a playmate of his daughter. The girls manage to get a little tipsy by finishing off drinks left around at a house party. This leads to the accusation of molestation by another intruder at the party when Samanta’s father arrives to her pick up. Senator Adolfo Cuéllar crashed the party to implore Mallarino to cease his particularly vicious attacks on his character. Instead, the incident has the opposite effect. Mallarino’s chief concern is not the truth so much as using the incident for his next juicy cartoon. Of course, the cartoonist’s approach is not to draw reality, but instead to insinuate character emphasizing physical flaws. “Bones are the only things that matter…Give me a bone and I shall move the world.” In this case, Mallarino suggests that Cuéllar may be a pedophile. This has disastrous consequences for Cuéllar and his family.

Samanta is confused by what may or may not have happened at that party 28 years ago and only seeks the truth. Of course, Mallarino really doesn’t know what happened, but the outcome from his attack on Cuéllar has him doubting his own honor and provides the impetus to seek answers, even at the risk of his own reputation.

The novel is a subtle exploration of multiple important themes: the precariousness of reputation, the gap between private persona and celebrity, the shadow land between artistic distortion and reality, the unreliability of memory, and the ultimate inability to define the past. Vasquez skillfully handles these themes with controlled plotting, avoidance of didacticism and presentation of realistic and nuanced characters. ( )
  ozzer | Nov 17, 2016 |
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Sitting on a bench in the Parque Santander, having his shoes shined before it was time for the tribute to begin, Mallarino was suddenly sure he'd just seen a long-dead political cartoonist.
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An influential political cartoonist is paid an unexpected visit by a young woman who upends his sense of personal history and forces him to reevaluate his life, work, and position in the world.

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