We are proud to announce that BookBrowse has won Platinum in the 2024 Modern Library Awards.

BookBrowse Reviews It Would Be Night in Caracas by Karina Sainz Borgo

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the book |  Read-Alikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

It Would Be Night in Caracas

by Karina Sainz Borgo

It Would Be Night in Caracas by Karina Sainz Borgo X
It Would Be Night in Caracas by Karina Sainz Borgo
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Oct 2019, 224 pages

    Paperback:
    Aug 2020, 224 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Karen Lewis
Buy This Book

About this Book

Reviews

BookBrowse:


This gripping novel in translation charts one woman's attempt to survive the violent social upheaval of Venezuela's capital city following economic crisis.

Karina Sainz Borgo's It Would Be Night in Caracas, translated from the Spanish by Elizabeth Bryer, sketches a vivid portrait of present-day Caracas, the capital of Venezuela. The story follows protagonist Adelaida Falcón, 38, as she struggles to recover from her mother's recent death from cancer and contend with Caracas's social upheaval. The city, like the rest of Venezuela, has been rocked by protest and political instability since the death of former President Hugo Chavez in 2013, and volatile world oil prices now threaten to collapse the nation's economy, which heavily depends on exporting oil. Sainz Borgo's clear, poetic prose and richly textured account of Venezuelan history deliver a remarkable panorama of a country, a city, and a community on the verge of violent change.

At the novel's start, civil unrest and violence on the streets have effectively trapped Adelaida in her apartment building. Her fifth-floor balcony offers a prime vantage point from which to witness the chaos below:

I opened the window and peeked out at our treeless street, somehow discerning the smell of maize bread amid the deathly clouds of smoke. I closed my eyes and inhaled deeply the remains of a life story turned into a pile of sticks.

Adelaida is at risk in the way that everyone in the city is at risk, but she also has specific challenges. The cost to bury her mother is outrageously expensive, as is medical care—even antibiotics carry a hefty price. Since the economy is disrupted on every level, her livelihood as a journalist and editor also has been threatened. Her usual media outlets are either too dangerous to work with or cannot pay as usual. Worse yet, her former lover, a press photographer, has been killed by Colombian guerrillas.

One afternoon, Adelaida risks a rare trip to the store, and returns to find squatters in her apartment. They're an organized and well-armed gang trading in black market goods. Led by the short-fused La Mariscola, the gang locks her out of a place that holds most of her memories, all of her books, and her mother's prized possessions. The gang assaults her, and she stumbles upstairs, where a seamstress neighbor stitches and bandages her wound. She then finds refuge in another apartment, but more unexpected complications soon arise. Exasperated, she realizes that she must shed her previously mild-mannered, bookish identity and take direct action to survive.

On another venture out, desperate to acquire basic female hygiene items on the black market, the protagonist is caught up in a violent demonstration. She bumps into Santiago, the younger brother of her closest friend, Ana. Santiago, a radical activist, has recently escaped from prison. He saves Adelaida from the demonstration's violence and seeks temporary refuge in her borrowed apartment; at risk for re-arrest, he intensifies the danger she faces. The two have different beliefs about how to resist oppression during desperate times, and a decade age difference, but they form a memorable bond based on forced proximity—not exactly romance, more like comrades-in-despair.

The author's adept plotting builds suspense throughout the novel. In flashbacks, readers learn about Adelaida's mother, who grew up in a rural, coastal area but moved to Caracas to build a new life as a single mother. Adelaida's fairly prosperous middle-class childhood offers a glimpse of a time when life seemed normal in Venezuela. As food scarcity rocks the city in the present, for instance, she recalls passing a granary silo stamped P.A.N. on a childhood trip to the coast (for more information on P.A.N. and Venezuelan cuisine see Beyond the Book):

P.A.N flour nourished thousands of men and women, until the second wave of hunger and shortages saw it disappear from the shelves and become a luxury item. True democracy dwelled in that industrialized flour. Whether rich or poor, everyone ate that starch, which was baked into so many of our memories.

Memories of the past effectively punctuate the tension of present circumstances. High stakes combined with a series of dramatic reversals in fortune propel the novel to a satisfying, if unexpected, conclusion.

It Would Be Night in Caracas offers provocative reading for book groups and will appeal to fans of contemporary Latin American fiction. Themes include grief, survival, social change, identity, personal risk and migration.

Reviewed by Karen Lewis

This review was originally published in The BookBrowse Review in November 2019, and has been updated for the September 2020 edition. 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" articles
  • 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 $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book:
  Venezuelan Cuisine

Read-Alikes

Read-Alikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked It Would Be Night in Caracas, try these:

  • The Far Field jacket

    The Far Field

    by Madhuri Vijay

    Published 2019

    About this book

    Gorgeously tactile and sweeping in historical and socio-political scope, Pushcart Prize-winner Madhuri Vijay's The Far Field follows a complicated flaneuse across the Indian subcontinent as she reckons with her past, her desires, and the tumultuous present.

  • In the Midst of Winter jacket

    In the Midst of Winter

    by Isabel Allende

    Published 2018

    About this book

    More by this author

    New York Times and worldwide bestselling "dazzling storyteller" (Associated Press) Isabel Allende returns with a sweeping novel about three very different people who are brought together in a mesmerizing story that journeys from present-day Brooklyn to Guatemala in the recent past to 1970s Chile and Brazil.

We have 4 read-alikes for It Would Be Night in Caracas, but non-members are limited to two results. To see the complete list of this book's read-alikes, you need to be a member.
Search read-alikes
How we choose read-alikes

Support BookBrowse

Join our inner reading circle, go ad-free and get way more!

Find out more


Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: The Curse of Pietro Houdini
    The Curse of Pietro Houdini
    by Derek B. Miller
    Derek B. Miller's sixth novel, The Curse of Pietro Houdini, opens in the town of Cassino, Italy, in ...
  • Book Jacket: Our Moon
    Our Moon
    by Rebecca Boyle
    In Our Moon: How Earth's Celestial Companion Transformed the Planet, Guided Evolution, and Made Us ...
  • Book Jacket: Neighbors and Other Stories
    Neighbors and Other Stories
    by Diane Oliver
    The history of American segregation, along with changes to it in the 1960s, is sometimes taught and ...
  • Book Jacket: Wild and Distant Seas
    Wild and Distant Seas
    by Tara Karr Roberts
    Tara Karr Roberts is a newspaper columnist who also teaches English and journalism. Wild and Distant...

BookBrowse Book Club

Book Jacket
Mockingbird Summer
by Lynda Rutledge
A powerful and emotional coming-of-age novel set in the 1960s by the bestselling author of West with Giraffes.

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Leaving
    by Roxana Robinson

    An engrossing exploration of the vows we make to one another and what we owe to others and ourselves.

  • Book Jacket

    Strong Passions
    by Barbara Weisberg

    Shocking revelations of a wife's adultery in 19th New York explode in an incendiary trial exposing the upper-crust and its secrets.

Win This Book
Win The Cleaner

The Cleaner
by Brandi Wells

Rarely has cubicle culture been depicted in such griminess or with such glee."
PW (starred review)

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

I Wouldn't T H W A T-F P

and be entered to win..

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.