"This barrio angel teaches us how to see behind the appearance of things and how to embrace reality with all the senses." Isabel Allende
"Laura Restrepo breathes life into a singular amalgam of journalistic investigation and literary creation. Her fascination with popular culture and the play of her impeccable humor, of that biting but at the same time tender irony . . . infuses them with unmistakable reading pleasures." Gabriel García Márquez
Winner of Mexico's Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz Prize, and France's Prix France Culture, The Angel of Galilea introduces a refreshing new voice in Latin American literature to the English speaking audience.
Mona is a jaded reporter for a Colombian tabloid sent on assignment to investigate an angel sighting in one of Bogotá's most devastated barrios, where she encounters a community torn apart by a passionate conflict over a beautiful man who walks the fine line between sanity and sainthood. For the people of Galilea, this mysterious and sensual "angel without a name" represents their hope amidst desperate circumstances; for Mona, he awakens her desire to love and gives her a reason to believe. When the barrio's priest leads a revolt against the fallen angel, Mona risks everything to protect him from the gang that threatens to destroy him.
"Restrepo is a writer to treasure." Alastair Reid
"Sharply resonant." The New York Times Book Review
"Surprising, wonderful, and, for me, deeply moving."
Restrepo writes that she waited to write this novel, a blend of journalism and magical realism, until after the commercial popularity of angels waned. She may not have waited long enough. Whether in kitschy illustrated books or blockbuster movies like City of Angels, the cherubic entities remain hot properties for reasons that appeal to parts of the human psyche sympathetic to puppy dogs and soap operas. Modern angels are either insufferably cute infants or mysterious strangers descending from Cloud Nine long enough to stir the hearts of their human beloveds. Milton wouldn't recognize these creatures, shorn as they are of their flaming swords and supernatural fury.
Though Restrepo tries to introduce a bit of the old angelic terror into her novel, the results are lackluster, producing little more than a weak chronicle of an affair between Monita, a Colombian reporter, and a mute adolescent the Galilea townspeople consider either a divine messenger or satanic deception. There are wonderfully inventive passages in this book and the novel begins with promise. Unfortunately, Restrepo's dialogue often gets stuck in matters better left to exposition and the story itself seems overly familiar despite the author's occasional comic flourish. Ultimately, nothing here shakes the reader's presuppositions about celestial creatures or their interactions with humans.