15 April 2015. Latin America Bureau (LAB) is pleased to announce that ‘K’ by Bernardo Kucinski, which it published last year, has been short-listed for the International IMPAC DUBLIN Literary Award, which is presented annually for a novel written in English or translated into English. Now in its 20th year, the award, which is an initiative of the Dublin City Council, aims to promote excellence in world literature. Nominations are submitted by library systems in major cities throughout the world. The winner will be announced on 17 June 2015.

Here is IMPAC’s comment on ‘K:  “Readers will come away overwhelmed by this powerful work of literature as we did, through the reading and discussing of a remarkable book written in sparse language hovering between memoir and novel, a compelling tale almost impossible to put down. One of the best books the library reading team read lately.”

A searing work that hovers between memoir and novel, ‘K’ describes the ordeal endured by the author’s father as he sought clues to the disappearance of his daughter in the 1970s at the hands of the country’s dictatorship. In a review of the book, LAB trustee David Lehmann, wrote:

“Kucinski has written a meditation on loss, on parenthood, on guilt and complicity. He describes K’s inner thoughts, his fears, his sense of guilt, and the vicious learning process he underwent as his search for information drew him ever deeper into the nether region of informers and extortionists who form the essential machinery of any dictatorship.

We hear many other voices as well, and they highlight those moral bargains that are made in times of dictatorship and revolution: We meet the lawyer whose affair with the chief torturer, the notorious Sergio Fleury, is more than just a deal to obtain a passport for her endangered brother; we hear the vile-mouthed torture operatives sparing a dog who gets in their way; we listen to a revolutionary who previously under torture turned into an informer, as he decides to stop informing on his former comrades; we attend a meeting of the university’s chemistry department, whose members, 19 months after the disappearance of their young colleague, vote secretly and overwhelmingly to follow the instructions of the administration, and sack her for her “absence” – instead of acknowledging what they all know happened to her.

In one of the most extreme episodes, a domestic servant who has been hired by Fleury to work in the torture center is sent to see a psychologist because she cannot sleep and has hallucinations. Gradually, drawn out by the psychologist, whose friends and colleagues cross her mind as she listens, she tells, almost in passing, of her rape at the hands of a stepfather, of her life of drugs and petty crime, and then of her “‘rescue”’ from prison by Fleury. She tells, almost in passing, of his seduction of her, which she insists was not rape, and then recounts in detail her betrayal of the prisoners at his behest, passing on notes and addresses they had entrusted to her. As her suspicions grow, she comes to the realization that the prisoners were being killed and their bodies hacked to pieces and dissolved in acid. Eventually, she breaks down in the consulting room.”

David Lehmann’s full review can be accessed here.

Both print and e-versions of the book can be obtained from Practical Action Publishing here.   If you add the codeLABK0415 to your shopping basket, you can purchase the print version for the discounted price of £10.

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