Summary and book reviews of At Night We Walk in Circles by Daniel Alarcon

At Night We Walk in Circles

A Novel

By Daniel Alarcon

At Night We Walk in Circles
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • Hardcover: Oct 2013,
    384 pages.
    Paperback: 7 Oct 2014,
    384 pages.

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Poornima Apte

Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

The breakout book from a prizewinning young writer: a breathtaking, suspenseful story of one man's obsessive search to find the truth of another man's downfall.

Nelson's life is not turning out the way he hoped. His girlfriend is sleeping with another man, his brother has left their South American country and moved to the United States, leaving Nelson to care for their widowed mother, and his acting career can't seem to get off the ground. That is, until he lands a starring role in a touring revival of The Idiot President, a legendary play by Nelson's hero, Henry Nunez, leader of the storied guerrilla theater troupe Diciembre. And that's when the real trouble begins.

The tour takes Nelson out of the shelter of the city and across a landscape he's never seen, which still bears the scars of the civil war. With each performance, Nelson grows closer to his fellow actors, becoming hopelessly entangled in their complicated lives, until, during one memorable performance, a long-buried betrayal surfaces to force the troupe into chaos.

Nelson's fate is slowly revealed through the investigation of the narrator, a young man obsessed with Nelson's story?and perhaps closer to it than he lets on. In sharp, vivid, and beautiful prose, Alarcón delivers a compulsively readable narrative and a provocative meditation on fate, identity, and the large consequences that can result from even our smallest choices.

1.

During the war — which Nelson's father called the anxious years — a few radical students at the Conservatory founded a theater company. They read the French surrealists, and improvised adaptations of Quechua myths; they smoked cheap tobacco, and sang protest songs with vulgar lyrics. They laughed in public as if it were a political act, baring their teeth and frightening children. Their ranks were drawn, broadly speaking, from the following overlapping circles of youth: the long-hairs, the working-class, the sex-crazed, the poseurs, the provincials, the alcoholics, the emotionally needy, the rabble-rousers, the opportunists, the punks, the hangers-on, and the obsessed. Nelson was just a boy then: moody, thoughtful, growing up in a suburb of the capital with his head bent over a book. He was secretly in love with a slight, brown-haired girl from school, with whom he'd exchanged actual words on only a handful of occasions. At night, Nelson wrote out the ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Reviews

BookBrowse

Set in an unnamed South American country, At Night We Walk in Circles explores concepts of identity and loss, among others, in a soulful story that confirms Alarcon’s status as one of America’s most dazzling fiction writers.   (Reviewed by Poornima Apte).

Full Review Members Only (1099 words).

Media Reviews
Publishers Weekly

Much of the book reads like a needlessly protracted warm-up for Nelson’s coup de théâtre, and what follows is too melodramatic for the reader to take entirely seriously. Still, Alarcón recreates the tense atmosphere of what it is like to live in a country where words have consequences.

Library Journal

This is an involving and dramatic story in a vague yet realistic landscape.

Kirkus Reviews

Though the book is low on lyricism, Alarcón successfully merges themes of art, love and politics.

Author Blurb Yiyun Li, author of Gold Boy, Emerald Girl and The Vagrants
Nabokov says that imagination is a form of memory, and this novel is a perfect example of this claim. In writing about a place, its people and its history, Daniel Alarcón's memory catches the evanescent details of everyday life, while his imagination, never for a moment blurred, creates a powerful story with so many intricate characters. This is a novel written with extraordinary vision and wisdom.

Reader Reviews
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Yuyachkani

The theater group Diciembre, in At Night We Walk in Circles, sounds a lot like Peru's award-winning independent theater collective, Yuyachkani. Launched in 1971, the group's essential pillars have been political performances, theatrical experimentation and performances steeped in indigenous culture.

YuyachkaniYuyachkani is a Quechua word that means "I am thinking/I am remembering." The company is at the forefront of Latin American theater, and makes education and community issues the cornerstones of its work. One of Yuyachkani's principles is the belief that "an evaluation of the past makes us understand the present." To that end, Yuyachkani has focused its action around one main objective: to contribute to the development and strengthening of ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Readalikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked At Night We Walk in Circles, try these:

  • The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao jacket

    The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

    by Junot Diaz

    Published Feb 2013

    More about this book

    Read Reviews

    Things have never been easy for Oscar, a sweet but disastrously overweight, lovesick Dominican ghetto nerd. Oscar dreams of becoming the Dominican J. R. R. Tolkien and, most of all, of finding love. But he may never get what he wants, thanks to the Fukœ - the curse that has haunted Oscar's family for generations.

  • The Invisible Mountain jacket

    The Invisible Mountain

    by Carolina De Robertis

    Published Feb 2013

    More about this book

    Read Reviews

    From Perón's glittering Buenos Aires to the rustic hills of Rio de Janeiro, from the haven of a Montevideo butchershop to U.S. embassy halls, The Invisible Mountain celebrates a nation’s spirit, the will to survive in the most desperate of circumstances, and the fierce and complex connections between mother and daughter.

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member


Search Readalikes again
How we choose readalikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  
Sign up, win books!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket
    The Stranger on the Train
    by Abbie Taylor
    The opening chapter of Abbie Taylor's debut novel, The Stranger on the Train, took me right back to ...
  • Book Jacket
    Night Film
    by Marisha Pessl
    One of the central tenets of Hinduism states that the world as we know it is just an illusion –...
  • Book Jacket: Complicit
    Complicit
    by Stephanie Kuehn
    When seventeen year-old Jamie Henry receives word that his older sister Cate, is being released from...

First Impressions

Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!

Books that
expand your
horizons.

Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only

Find out more.

Book Discussions
Book Jacket

Tomlinson Hill
by Chris Tomlinson

Published Jul. 2014

Join the discussion!

  1.  152The City:
    Dean Koontz

All Discussions

Who Said...

Be sincere, be brief, be seated.

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

Solve this clue:

O O T F P, Into T F

and be entered to win..

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.