“The Sound of Things Falling” by Juan Gabriel Vásquez

16171259In the city of Bogotá, Antonio Yammara reads an article about a hippo that had escaped from a derelict zoo once owned by legendary Colombian drug kingpin Pablo Escobar. The article transports Antonio back to when the war between Escobar’s Medellín cartel and government forces played out violently in Colombia’s streets and in the skies above.

Antonio was walking with a friend, Ricardo Laverde, when shooting takes place out of a sudden, by a passing motorbike. Laverde’s life ends, while Antonio’s life is ruined. Antonio, has met Richardo in a Bogotá billiard hall. He didn’t know much about him, other than he was a pilot and he was in jail for some reason. After the life changing event, Antonio founds it difficult to live each day as before.

The story in the book is a combination of many things. Antionio’s life as a professor, a husband, a father. His struggle to overcome the shooting incident and the reasons that armed the bikers. The anarchy in the country. The drug cartels that prevailed Medellin county. The drug war that raged throughout Colombia and its people. The nights and days of Pablo Escobar and the ramifications on the population. The contribution of the Peace Corps to the penetration of coke in the United States territory.

But most of all, this book is about the realization that one does not control their own life. One’s life is waif of other people’s decisions. One is doomed to fear when in a terrorized environment. One can never escape their own memories, that set their thoughts on fire, until truth is revealed and restored. The difficulty to leave while the Furies slowly eat one’s mind over the tragedy caused by their own actions.

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