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In this grim inferno, a fierce love blossomed – one that was born in pain and cruelty, and one that will live or die on this day. Estela and Epitafio too, were trafficked, they grew together in the brutal orphanage, fell in love, but were ripped apart. They have played an ugly role in the very system that abused them, and done the bidding of the brutal old priest for too long. They have traded in migrants, put children to work as slaves, hacked off limbs and lives without a thought, though they have never forgotten the memory of their own shackles.
Like the immigrants whose hopes they extinguish, they long to be free; free to be together and alone. Here in an unnamed land that could be a Mexico reimagined by Breughel and Dante, on the border between purgatory and inferno, where Paradise is the mouth of hell and cruelty the only currency, lives are spent, bartered and indentured for it. Must all be bankrupt among the lost?
’This is a book of unbearable beauty and affliction. It is written with the lucidity of someone who has opened his eyes and refused to shut them again. The book’s power is not only in what it says, but in the silences that it leaves the reader’s conscience to grapple with.’
’It’s a brilliantly composed, dramatic and unflinching evocation of a world riven by endemic violence and extreme feeling, and an astute (if apocalyptic) road trip into the psychology of abuse.’
-Cameron Woodhead, The Age
’An important insight into the horrific realities of people-trafficking in South America … facilitated by the accomplished translation by Frank Wynne … In an innovative technique that bears vague resemblance to Joyce, Monge intersperses his narrative with direct emotive accounts from migrants and asylum-seekers. Some of these passages are difficult to read. They are loaded with pathos and sentiment and are important emblems of truths amid the violence and moral corruption throughout novel … Monge exposes these truths in stories that are not easy to shirk away from, with remarkable linguistic skill. An important read.’
-Ronan Gerrard, The London Magazine
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