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Simpatia — Rodrigo Blanco Calderon

Simpatia — Rodrigo Blanco Calderon

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When Ulises Kan's wife leaves Caracas and moves abroad without him, her father befriends him, and when the father-in-law dies, Ulises finds he has been bequeathed the bizarre task of turning the family mansion into a shelter for dogs.

The untranslatable word, simpatia, an intermingling of sympathy and charm, captures the kinship of stranglers and strays in the cleared-out city. So too does it describe the Latin American electorate's enshrining of a long line of larger-than-life political figures, from Simon Bolivar to Hugo Chavez.

With his debut novel, The Night, awarded the Mario Vargas Llosa Biennial Prize in 2019, Blanco Calderon established himself as a writer of labyrinthine darkness, but here, in his second novel, his touch is softer. Simpatia is a tragicomic depiction of a family and a nation, unreeling in prose that is both refined and exuberant. In a story of dogs and men, Blanco Calderon unearths the secrets of his native Caracas and finds humour and humanity in our monstrous, postlapsarian present.

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