Honduran novelist Horacio Castellanos Moya (El asco, La diabla en el espejo
), author of eight novels, five collections of short fiction, and one book of essays, and currently a teacher at the University of Pennsylvania, wrote this story (first published in Spanish in 2004) of an alcoholic writer hired to clean up a 1,000-page Catholic Church report of a decades-earlier torture and massacre of Indians. A subject ripe with opportunity for a writer of Moya’s dystopian sensibility. One review
Castellanos Moya belongs to the modernist tradition of bile: of Celine and Thomas Bernhard, particularly the fluid, compulsive rhythms of Bernhard’s long sentence style
. The awful fate of the indigenous people of Central America, a region cursed by American intervention and wars, stays with you. As one of the fragments of testimony (echoing the last grieving lines of Czeslaw Milosz’s poem Dedication) copied down by the narrator says, May they wipe out the names of the dead to make them free, then no more problems we’ll have.