by Toby Green
Elvis Jaramillo is a poor kid from a shantytown; Julián Restrepo is a rich kid taxi driver dreaming of becoming a rock star; Pamela Oswald the NGO worker from London who becomes fatally intertwined in their lives….
In an unnamed Latin American country, society eats itself from the inside. Leila Halabi, a 2nd generation Palestinian immigrant, offers to house Pamela Oswald while she works at a rehabilitation centre for poor kids who are self-harming. But when Oswald discovers that Halabi’s previous guest disappeared in unexplained circumstances, she becomes uneasy…
Julián Restrepo picks Oswald up from the airport when she arrives in the capital city, Santa Fé, and the two become friends. Restrepo introduces her to the other members of his band: Jhonny Cruz the guitarist, Robert Stone, a cynical English journalist, and Raúl Bontera, a Chilean poet who tells Oswald of a new game he discovered in Colombia: Colombian Roulette – like Russian Roulette without the safety of the empty chambers…In a shantytown in distant Guadalajara, Elvis Jaramillo works alongside a mechanic calling himself the Angolan, a testament to his enslaved African ancestors. The Angolan shows Jaramillo how to make a life and survive. But then one of the Angolan’s friends makes an offer Jaramillo can’t refuse, and he leaves the only world he knows – a world where violence is the best opportunity going, and safety a luxury for those who can forget the past.
How to achieve a lasting peace where human weakness and the political order will not allow it? It soon is clear that accepted truths are built on lies, and every alternative offers a route to disappearance. Restrepo and Oswald embark on a dangerous quest for the truth which brings them and Jaramillo together, in a country where the present implodes as the violence of the past is excavated, and the only war that has yet been declared is against itself.
About the Author
Toby Green is a writer and historian of West Africa. He has written numerous books, and his work has been translated into 12 languages. He has contributed to journals including the Financial Times, the Guardian, the Independent, the London Review of Books, and Prospect, and his previous novel Imaginary Crimes was published by Mkuki na Nyota in 2013. He has given public lectures on aspects of West African history in Brazil, France, Portugal, Senegal, The Gambia, and the USA; and has chaired public events with figures including the Bissau-Guinean musician Manecas Costa, the Mozambican novelist Luís Bernardo Honwana, and the Senegalese historian Boubacar Barry. He is Lecturer in Lusophone African History and Culture at King’s College London