BookBrowse Reviews Delirium by Laura Restrepo

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Delirium

A Novel

by Laura Restrepo

Delirium by Laura Restrepo
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Apr 2007, 336 pages
    Paperback:
    Mar 2008, 336 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse Review Team

Buy This Book

About this Book

Reviews

BookBrowse:


A passionate, lyrical, devastating tale of eros and insanity set against the backdrop of 1980s Colombia

 Delirium, Restrepo's sixth novel to be published in English (the translation is by Natasha Wimmer who also translated The Savage Detectives), has already won the 2004 Premio Alfaguara in Spain, the 2006 Grinzane Cavour Prize in Italy, and was short listed for the French Prix du Meilleur Livre Etranger (best translated fiction).  The story is told from various points of view; we hear from Aguila, Agustina's mild-mannered "husband", who returns home to find his wife deranged; we also hear from the gangster Midas, Agustina's former lover; we travel back two generations to see through the eyes of Agustina's German grandfather, Nicolás; and, of course, we hear Agustina's story, sometimes told in the first person, sometimes in the third, as she drifts between the past and present. 

The setting is Bogota, capital of Colombia, in the early 1980s, during the "reign" of drug trafficker Pablo Escobar.  At the start it can be difficult to distinguish who is narrating the various segments of the story, as they chop and change frequently without introduction.  This gives the novel an intangible quality that threatens to be hard work, but quite quickly the reader learns to recognize the individual voices, and the threat of the ephemeral gives way to solidly told streams of narrative that reveal, if not the whole, at least enough to see and understand the cause of Agustina's breakdown. 

As the author is clearly making a parallel between Agustina's madness and the mental health of Colombia itself, it's interesting to note that Agustina's current breakdown is not the first instance in her family's history or, for that matter, the first time that she has become delusional.  That it is impossible to point to a single event in her childhood, or her family's past, where things first became unhinged highlights the difficulty of finding a solution to the problems that beset Colombia, a country that has arguably gone off the rails into what some might consider generational, collective insanity.  

As the skeleton's in Agustina's family's cupboard are slowly revealed to us we can all too clearly see the damage wrought by fear and madness at the individual level and, by extrapolation, to an entire country where behind every falsehood lurk more lies, where insanity is the norm and to have integrity is to be insane.

About Pablo Escobar (1949 - 1993)
Drug lord Pablo Escobar began his life of crime while still in school; by the early 1970s he was involved in the cocaine trade.  Together with a half dozen other "entrepreneurs", Escobar formed the infamous Medellin Cartel that eventually controlled 80% of the cocaine shipped to the USA.  This made him one of the wealthiest, most powerful, and most violent criminals of all-time (Fortune magazine named him one of the ten richest people on earth).  According to Biography.com, "his rise to infamy cost the lives of three Colombian presidential candidates, an attorney general, a justice minister, more than 200 judges, dozens of journalists, and over 1,000 police officers".  Escobar was shot to death by members of a special police unit in 1993.

This review was originally published in June 2007, and has been updated for the March 2008 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.



This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access become a member today.
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!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Amber Shadows
    The Amber Shadows
    by Lucy Ribchester
    The Amber Shadows sweeps readers into the realm of World War II-era Britain where Honor "Honey" ...
  • Book Jacket: Midwinter Break
    Midwinter Break
    by Bernard MacLaverty
    Northern Ireland's Bernard MacLaverty is the author of five novels and multiple short story ...
  • Book Jacket: The Ninth Hour
    The Ninth Hour
    by Alice McDermott
    In a pivotal scene in The Ninth Hour, young Sally encounters an increasingly loathsome series of ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
Being Mortal by Atul Gawande

An eye-opening and riveting look at how how medicine can not only improve life but also the process of its ending.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Twelve-Mile Straight
    by Eleanor Henderson

    An audacious epic set in rural Georgia during the years of the Depression and Prohibition.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Love and Other Consolation Prizes
    by Jamie Ford

    Inspired by a true story, about a boy whose life is transformed at Seattle's epic 1909 World's Fair.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win If the Creek Don't Rise

If the Creek Don't Rise

A debut novel bursting with heart, honesty, and homegrown grit.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

Y Can't M A S P O O A S E

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

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

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.