Javier Mallarino is a living legend. He is his country's most influential political cartoonist, the consciousness of a nation. A man capable of repealing laws, overturning judges' decisions....
Anna Kerrigan, nearly 12 years old, accompanies her father to the house of a man who, she gleans, is crucial to the survival of her father and her family....
A profound, startling, and beautifully crafted debut novel, The Sympathizer is the story of a man of two minds, someone whose political beliefs clash with his individual loyalties....
From the Nobel Prize-winning author of One Hundred Years of Solitude comes a masterly evocation of an unrequited passion so strong that it binds two people's lives together for more than half a century....
Moonglow unfolds as the deathbed confession, made to his grandson, of a man the narrator refers to only as "my grandfather". It is a tale of madness, of war and adventure....
From prize-winning, best-selling author Colson Whitehead, a magnificent tour de force chronicling a young slave's adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom....
The definitive English-language biography of Simón Bolívar, the, "George Washington of South America," who remains strangely unknown in the United States....
A biting satire about a young man's isolated upbringing and the race trial that sends him to the Supreme Court....
A riveting novel that traces the intertwined fates of the picture-perfect Richardson family and the enigmatic mother and daughter who upend their lives....
In a country teetering on the brink of civil war, two young people meet - sensual, fiercely independent Nadia and gentle, restrained Saeed. They embark on a furtive love affair....
When, in 1922, Count Alexander Rostov is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, he is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel across from the Kremlin....
One of the 20th century's enduring works, One Hundred Years of Solitude is a widely beloved and acclaimed novel known throughout the world and the ultimate achievement in a Nobel Prize-winning career....
With the coruscating gaze that informed The Sympathizer, in The Refugees Viet Thanh Nguyen gives voice to lives led between two worlds....
Intense, brilliant and moving, The Door is a compelling story about the relationship between two women of opposing backgrounds and personalities....
Two brown girls dream of being dancers - but only one, Tracey, has talent. The other has ideas: about rhythm and time, about black bodies and black music, what constitutes a tribe....
One Sunday afternoon in Southern California, Bert Cousins shows up at Franny Keating's christening party uninvited. Before evening falls, he has kissed Franny's mother, Beverly....
A Colombian writer is witness to a murder that will mark him forever. A woman sits alone in her house, waiting for her husband to return....
The Informers secured Juan Gabriel Vásquez’s place as one of the most original and exuberantly talented novelist working today. Now he returns with an ingenious new novel of historical invention....
Juan Gabriel Vsquez has been hailed not only as one of South America’s greatest literary stars, but also as one of the most acclaimed writers of his generation. In this gorgeously wrought, award-winning novel, Vsquez confronts the history of his home country, Colombia.
In the city of Bogot, Antonio Yammara reads an article about a hippo that had escaped from a derelict zoo once owned by legendary Colombian drug kingpin Pablo Escobar. The article transports Antonio back to when the war between Escobar’s Medelln cartel and government forces played out violently in Colombia’s streets and in the skies above. Back then, Antonio witnessed a friend’s murder, an event that haunts him still. As he investigates, he discovers the many ways in which his own life and his friend’s family have been shaped by his country’s recent violent past. His journey leads him all the way back to the 1960s and a world on the brink of change: a time before narco-trafficking trapped a whole generation in a living nightmare.
Vsquez is “one of the most original new voices of Latin American literature” according to Nobel Prize winner Mario Vargas Llosa, and The Sound of Things Falling is his most personal, most contemporary novel to date, a masterpiece that takes his writing - and will take his literary star - even higher.
Against the backdrop of an explosive and defining moment in history -- Pablo Escobar and the Columbian drug cartels, the bloody War on Drugs, the growing cocaine addiction -- Vasquez has set an amazing story that immediately grips the reader. With just his words, he talks to our senses, filling the reader's head with photos and journals, maps and newspaper articles, smugglers flying their illegal cargo, buried secrets, heart wrenching confessionals...and the hippos. An intricate story of the interconnectedness of different characters, different times, seamlessly flowing into a foreign world of heightened senses and paradoxical beauty.
...In 1981, drug lord Pablo Escobar, the vicious head of the Madellin cartel, imported 4 African hippos from New Orleans to be exhibits in his extravagant private zoo. After he was gunned down in '93, the government took possession of most of the animals, leaving a few of the heavy and difficult to transport, hippos behind. The hippos, which had grown to a sizeable herd, basked in the lakes Escobar had constructed, while the zoo around them fell into disrepair. In 2006, a pair of those hippos, Pepe and Matilda, wandered away from the zoo and into local legendom. The mates seemed to have disappeared until in 2009 when they were photographed just 63 miles from the zoo site, grazing in tall river grass with a small calf by their side (dubbed Pepito). Suddenly, stories of marauding hippos terrorizing villagers, destroying crops, killing livestock, began popping up. (You might even remember the NY Times articles on the hippos, or the coverage on TV news.) The government responded by circulating stories of the diseases the *Artiodactyla* carried and *WANTED: Hippos* posters went up throughout Columbia...
Antonio Yammara has just finished reading the final chapter of PePe's life; a picture of the *hunters* standing over the corpse of the one and a half ton black hippo [a squad described by the NY Times, Sept. 10, '09: "Even in Colombia, a country known for its paramilitary death squads, this hunting party stood out: more than a dozen soldiers from a Colombian Army battalion, two Porsche salesmen armed with long-range rifles, their assistant, and a taxidermist." the picture is archived and can be looked up]. Included in the article he was reading was the brutal description of the dismemberment and burial of the animal, and the plans to continue the hunt for the remaining members of this hippo family that fled as the larger hippo was taken down. A familiar sense of melancholy spreads through Antonio. Even his death didn't bury Escobar's violence and greed; the echoes are still being heard and felt. But, this isn't the story of Escobar or his drug cartel, or of hippos.
The memories unlock in Antonio an emotional link to an old mysterious friend...and Antonio begins to recall the series of events that seemed to fall out of the sky and form his life's tragic path when that friend entered his life. Unable to thrust himself out from a crippling cycle of PTSD [Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder], Antonio is obsessed with connecting the events and people, and with answering some tenacious existential questions that have plagued him. The story begins *in media res* -- Antonio coming to a point in his life where the past compels him to find answers in the future at all costs. The title is a metaphorical reference to 2 airplane disasters that tightly connect one time to another, and align the characters. A nightmarish time in history, but as Antonio says, the story is not exclusive to him or the times, "It has happened before and it will happen again."
It is in a smaller sense, a story of the effects of the war on drugs and the people involved, the paradox of the event that harms us is often the thing that heals us. On a bigger scale, there is the universal theme that the dissonance of the past reverberates throughout time and people. The human lives pinned against the "tide of historical events," are the carriers of the psychic wounds, and very often, the price of keeping the meticulous balance of the scales of justice unjustly falls on the fragile shoulders of the innocent... even the hippos.
This isn't a story everyone will like, it burrows deep into a tormented soul and takes you there. Parts of me resisted associating with such a heavy pain. Even days after I finished, I was discouraged, trying to organize my feelings. Vasquez leaves you with the melancholy thought..."Who worries about us when we don't show up, and who can go out and look for us." It wasn't until I got the rebound whack to the head from this boomerang of a book that I realized that I was so blindly affected by the book and was still crawling out of dark places... that's what I call being lost in a book.
38 of 44 people found this review helpful
This is an excellent, absorbing novel nearly ruined by a poor narrator.
The story focuses on a young law professor in Bogota who grew up uncomfortably through the violent years when Pedro Escobar's drug gang imposed random violence on all levels of society--even blowing up a passenger plane in flight to kill a politician who was not on board.
There are several plane crashes in the course of the novel, but the "things falling" include more than airplanes--the professor's life gradually disintegrates after a mysterious older man, a friend he met shooting billiards, is shot dead on the Bogota street. The professor had tried to stop the shooting, but he is also shot and seriously wounded. The story turns to the professor's increasingly obsessive search to understand the friend's life. Along the way, we learn the family history of the murdered man--his grandfather was a prominent pilot for the Colombian military, his daughter raises bees in the countryside. We also learn much about recent Colombian history.
But the narrator is the worst. He reads the novel indifferently, as if he were reading a cookbook. You get the impression as he reads that he has not himself read the material in advance. He makes no effort to differentiate the voices of characters or to put any feeling into their conversation. At times, it's hard to tell which character is speaking because they all use the same resigned monotone.
While the poor narration makes it hard to stick with the book, it's worth the effort. "The Sound of Things Falling" is a thoughtful and moving, if tragic, tale of ordinary people trying to get by in extraordinary times.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
What did you love best about The Sound of Things Falling?
the combination of the narrator and the prose make it a perfect listen
Who was your favorite character and why?
no favorite characters but Elenor Fritz because of Mike's pronunciation and the sonerous way that her husband kept saying it made her memorable. The author doesn't realize her fully and her motives for her abrupt return to the US and then her return when her husband summons her doesn't work
What about Mike Vendetti’s performance did you like?
Her captured the mood and voice of the author perfectly. The prose is poetic and sinister, the story romantic and yet ominous and bleak, it's a mirror of the dense jungles and mountainous terrain of Colombia and it's all there in his performance. I listen to the book again just to hear him read it.
If you could rename The Sound of Things Falling, what would you call it?
Slouching toward Byzantine --the book is reminiscent of the Yeats poem in its bleakness and beauty and about the end of things, a culture, a people, love.
Any additional comments?
Perfect audible experience
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
What did you like best about The Sound of Things Falling? What did you like least?
The story was fascinating and well told.The narration was an insult, particularly to Latinos (I am Hispanic). Mr. Vendetti couldn't be bothered to learn the correct way to pronounce Spanish names, places and words? I can't believe that the editors at Audible would approve such a dismal performance.
Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Mike Vendetti?
I've listened to literally hundreds of narrators on Audible. When I buy a book, I never really pay attention to the narrator, because they have consistently been terrific. Lesson learned. I'll preview the book before purchasing and NEVER purchase one that has Mike Vendetti as the narrator.
6 of 7 people found this review helpful
Would you try another book from Juan Gabriel Vasquez and/or Mike Vendetti?
This is a wonderful book, beautifully written, but why would you choose such a terrible reader; someone who fumbles most polysyllabic words in English and whose Spanish is gibberish! I'm a big audible user, listening to at least two books a week, and this was the worst reader I've heard. When Vasquez writes another book, I'm definitely going for it, but only on paper!
How did the narrator detract from the book?
He sounded as unfamiliar with English as he was with Spanish! Ruined the audiobook.
Did The Sound of Things Falling inspire you to do anything?
write this review; my first ever.
Any additional comments?
Audible; please get a new reader! This book is too good to waste!
6 of 8 people found this review helpful
What didn’t you like about Mike Vendetti’s performance?
It sounded like his dentures were too big - slipping and sliding over words that sometimes jumbled together in an effort to get through a sentence without taking a breath. Skips and breaks like bad splicing. Very distracting and if I didn't have to read it in time for a book club I would have never gotten through it. Waste of money.
3 of 4 people found this review helpful
I enjoyed this audiobook very much. My interest is in deciding to live in Colombia for a year and wanting to read a bit of historic fiction. The story is beautiful but it moves quite slowly. I enjoyed the characters, the slow revealing information, Took me quite a few months to complete as I kept on taking long pauses, needing to rewind and listen again to get caught up. The narrators voice is very deep and soothing. I was a bit disappointed that the pronunciations of Spanish words were very far off though. It would not be hard to teach a narrator how to pronounce major cities in Colombia and it would be less awkward. Bogotá and Medellin are not hard to pronounce. Some of the pronunciations almost seemed mechanical, like the name of the university whose acronym was used many times. I am still quite happy about this audiobook but disappointed in the editors for this oversight.
Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?
Este libro es escrito por un Colombiano, que nunca habia oido antes, pero que tiene un estilo similar a Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Si, te hace recordar los años que vivimos de 1970 hasta los 90. Fueron tiempos dificiles, la muerte de tanta gente inocente por una persona que cambio su alma por un puñado de oro y poder. Pablo Escobar ha sido una de las peores personas colombianas y que no entiendo el porque la gente mira su pelicula en Netflix.
Who was your favorite character and why?
Antonio, el abogado de 26 años que nacio en 1970 y aunque no vivio nada de esa violencia conocio a Ricardo Laverde un Piloto que habia pasado 20 años en prision y que la relacion con el le cambio su vida por completo. Esta epoca cambio la vida de muchas personas, Ricardo, su hija, su familia y no solo lo de ellos, los de muchas familias colombianas.
Which scene was your favorite?
Todo el libro en general es interesante, bien escrito.
Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?
Me llevo al pasado, recorde la cantidades de veces que mataron personas en las heladerias de la 70, en la Macarena de Medellin, la explotada del avion de Avianca, los periodistas y jueces matados por orden de Escobar un tipo sin alma. Las matazones que se hicieron por personas en motos. Yo y mi familia fuimos de buenas nunca estuvimos en el lugar equivocado en esa epoca, unque todos seguimos viviendo nuestras vidas normales pero con precaucion y nadie de ellos se metio en las drogas.
Any additional comments?
El audio tiene problemas, no fue bien editado. Me hubiera gustado oir el libro en Español, pero no lo encontre en audibles. Y yo practicamente no leo.
The voice is so slow and so deep that I had to play the book at 1.25 speed.
Would you consider the audio edition of The Sound of Things Falling to be better than the print version?
The audio version was a sad missed opportunity! The English translation was very good and natural. The only thing that detracted from the story was the terrible performance of the narrator. Because of him I had to struggle many times as I listened to him bungle words, mumble words and completely miss pronounce words. His performance was devoid of emotion. He would read some of the most gripping lines in monotone. I was very disappointed in that aspect of the book. The story takes place in a Latin American country. The narrator should at least be able to pronounce the characters names and the places in Spanish. Even if it's an Anglicized version of the Spanish name. But this narrator could not even give a terrible English rendition of any Spanish word. The Spanish words were unintelligible and in the reader's mind we were left with no idea what was said. Rather than the words from another language adding a touch of romance or adventure to the story. I was constantly left wondering what the narrator had said. It was frustrating and very distracting. Another thing that was surprising was the editing. I could tell when many of the edits were made. In fact, in the last third of the book, the narrator's voice completely changed. It was like he was on cold medication. I hope the audio version of the book can be re-issued with a more suitable narrator. One with a command of the sounds of the Spanish language. The story is very good and the book is well written. There is plenty of excellent material here for a talented narrator to give us a very moving performance.
What did you like best about this story?
The storyline was full of surprises and intrigue. It's always fun when a story is unpredictable. Learning about Colombian recent history was an unexpected side benefit. Through this book I learned that the drug trade has impacted Colombian society in ways that I never imagined. The author has a wonderful talent for describing the scenes and giving the reader a sense of each characters emotional state as the story unfolds. I really enjoyed the book.
Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Mike Vendetti?
I think a narrator with a slight Spanish accent would add so much to the performance of this story. Because the main character is Colombian and he is telling the story. A narrator with a gentle Spanish accent would immediately draw the reader into the story and make it very believable.
Any additional comments?
Please redo the audio version of this book. I would love to listen to it again with the right narrator.
The story is good but sadly the experience is kind of ruined by an odd narration which for the majority of the time sounds like Google translate.
The narrator has a poor grasp on sentence structure and shocking Spanish. Interesting history colombia
Not a strong storyline with elements of recent Columbian history. The shallow characters are very forgettable. Do we really care about Antonio or Ricardo?