Something is happening. Wars, both national and internal, are being waged in jungles, across borders, in the streets of Lima, in the intimacy of New York apartments. War by Candlelight is an exquisite collection of stories that carry the reader from Third World urban centers to the fault lines that divide nations and people a devastating portrait of a world in flux and Daniel Alarcón is an extraordinary new voice in literary fiction, one you will not soon forget.
Civil strife and natural disasters mark these nine unflinching stories set in upper Manhattan and the blighted countryside and atrophied capital of Peru. Callous government forces destroy a prison controlled by rioting inmates in the grimly poetic "Flood." In the "City of Clowns"-first published in the New Yorker-social protests crowd Lima, where "dying is the local sport," while narrator Oscar, a jaded young journalist, grapples with his father's death and with his father's second family, which includes other sons and a mistress who seems to be befriending his mother. A revolutionary, who, with his compa eros, worships "frivolous violence," prowls around looking for black dogs to slaughter in "Lima, Peru, July 28, 1979." His brief, almost tender interaction with a passing cop is a striking example of doomed connection. And an accidental explosion kills a well-educated guerrilla in a Peruvian jungle, leaving his infant daughter fatherless, in the affecting title story. Even the collection's warmest scene-a father gives his impish five-year-old a make-up kit for her birthday in "A Science for Being Alone"-is muffled by her and her mother's impending emigration to the United States. Though his vision often seems bleak, Alarc n's voice is fierce and assured, and his debut collection engages. Agent, Eric Simonoff. (Apr.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.