Summary and book reviews of Hades, Argentina by Daniel Loedel

Hades, Argentina

by Daniel Loedel

Hades, Argentina by Daniel Loedel X
Hades, Argentina by Daniel Loedel
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     Not Yet Rated
  • Published:
    Jan 2021, 304 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Kim Kovacs
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About this Book

Book Summary

A decade after fleeing for his life, a man is pulled back to Argentina by an undying love.

In 1976, Tomás Orilla is a medical student in Buenos Aires, where he has moved in hopes of reuniting with Isabel, a childhood crush. But the reckless passion that has long drawn him is leading Isabel ever deeper into the ranks of the insurgency fighting an increasingly oppressive regime. Tomás has always been willing to follow her anywhere, to do anything to prove himself. Yet what exactly is he proving, and at what cost to them both?

It will be years before a summons back arrives for Tomás, now living as Thomas Shore in New York. It isn't a homecoming that awaits him, however, so much as an odyssey into the past, an encounter with the ghosts that lurk there, and a reckoning with the fatal gap between who he has become and who he once aspired to be. Raising profound questions about the sometimes impossible choices we make in the name of love, Hades, Argentina is a gripping, ingeniously narrated literary debut.

One

I'd spent eight years officially disappeared. At least as far as I knew; I hadn't been back to Argentina since '76, and even after the ostensible resumption of democracy in '83, no one from the government ever managed to confirm my existence. Only in the ninth year, when I married an American and had to get certain papers in order for my green card, did Tomás Orilla return to documented being.

But the interval in between wasn't merely a bureaucratic absence. I'd shut myself off completely until I met my wife, and even then—by our first anniversary, I was already sleeping on the couch. The affair was hers, but the fault, I acknowledged tacitly, was mine. I'd never been truly present. Kind and available, yes. Committed too. Even making plans for the long term—a joint savings account, my citizenship application, and, most recently, conversations about children. But it was always an effort, a mask I put on. If I blamed Claire for anything, it was that she saw it for ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Hades, Argentina isn't a fast read, but that's partly because Loedel's prose is often so achingly beautiful that one must pause to simply appreciate his gorgeous writing. It's one of those rare books that gets under your skin and haunts you for a long time after you turn the last page. It's one of the best novels I've read in recent years, and one I recommend highly for those who feel they can comfortably engage with the subject matter...continued

Full Review Members Only (721 words).

(Reviewed by Kim Kovacs).

Media Reviews

O, the Oprah Magazine
Elegant, searching...Amid echoes of the Orpheus myth and swirls of magic...a descent into an underworld of memory and brutality.

Seattle Times
The dark enchantments and increasing menace of Hades, Argentina were inspired, Loedel tells us, by the disappearance of his 22-year-old half-sister in 1978 after she joined the resistance against the regime. Loedel himself, born in 1988, is too young to have direct memories of the eras he depicts. But the tangles of action, intention and self-deception he evokes are spellbinding in ways that will hit home in any society where democracy, the rule of law and the very concept of the truth are in peril.

The Economist
Powerful...The plain delicacy of Mr Loedel’s prose suits not only the horror of his subject, but also his novel’s risky premise...hell is at once metaphor and setting, literary conceit and emotional reality. Tomas's sojourn there is a fittingly moving tribute to the author’s sister and her many fellow victims.

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
A complex and intimate meditation on love, guilt, and the decisions that haunt us forever.

Library Journal (starred review)
A powerful and complex novel, told in hallucinatory prose that challenges us to work out what is real vs. what is imagined. Recommended for all literary fiction collections.

Booklist (starred review)
[A] haunting story about repression and the vulnerability of youth...A devastating reminder of the tragic costs of politics made personal.

Publishers Weekly
[M]esmerizing...Loedel's unflinching look at human frailty adds a revelatory new chapter to South American Cold War literature.

Author Blurb Colm Tóibín, author of Brooklyn and Nora Webster
An astonishingly powerful novel about the complex nature of guilt.

Author Blurb Francisco Cantú, author of The Line Becomes A River
A stunning descent into the haze of memory and history. In his interrogation of complicity and violence, Loedel explores how institutionalized evil disappears humans not only from the physical world, but from their own souls as well.

Author Blurb R. O. Kwon, author of The Incendiaries
Strange, gorgeous, and terrifying—a book for the grievers, and for those of us who wish we could turn back time to remedy past mistakes—and so, for all of us.

Author Blurb Dinaw Mengestu, author of All Our Names
A remarkable novel, personal and political, elegiac and intimate, with a tenderness and wisdom evident in every passage. A beautiful book.

Author Blurb Juan Gabriel Vásquez, author of The Sound of Things Falling
Loedel writes in the venerable Argentinian tradition of mixing the political and the supernatural, but his novel comes from a different language and a new sensibility. It took me to places I had never visited before.

Reader Reviews

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Beyond the Book

Operation Condor

Black and white photo of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet in military regaliaThe action in Daniel Loedel's debut novel, Hades, Argentina, is propelled by a clandestine South American military campaign known as Operation Condor.

Operation Condor's roots can be traced back to the mid-1960s, when Che Guevara left Cuba to spread socialist doctrine throughout South America, advocating the violent overthrow of the continent's corrupt, U.S.-backed anti-communist dictatorships. Although Guevara was killed in Bolivia in 1967, his ideas had gained a foothold, resulting in a period of unrest. Across the continent, dictators were replaced by socialist-leaning leaders, some via coup, some through democratic election. The U.S. government wished to prevent the spread of communism (and was not scrupulous about differentiating ...

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