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3.92 of 5 stars 3.92  ·  rating details  ·  300 ratings  ·  66 reviews
Kamchatka is the last word that Harry hears from his father's lips. In that fantastic and inaccessible territory is where the ten year-old boy will take mental refuge to cure his wounds. Due to the abductions during Argentina's coup d’état, and knowing they are being chased, his parents decide to hide away. Through the story of this boy forced to contemplate the dark side...more
Paperback, 400 pages
Published September 30th 2004 by Punto de Lectura (first published January 1st 2003)
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By the end of this book, I had literally moved in. That is, felt like a part of the family, like my soul was lip-synching to the 10-year-old narrator's story, like I had renounced plot forever in favor of voice and characterization. Yeah. I liked it that much, because although it is set in Argentina in the 70s, the allusions are ones that any American can identify with (Superman, Batman, The Saint, The Invaders, Picnic, The Bridge Over the River Kwai, Goofy, Harry Houdini, and on and on). Yes, y...more
Pssssst...it's not really about Kamchatka, except as it relates to the board game of Risk. "Because Kamchatka was the place from where you fought back."

This is a rather charming novel about a very uncharming time in the history of Argentina. You witness life during the Dirty War in 1976 through the eyes of a ten-year-old boy whose family has gone into hiding. The way it ends will make you want to hold your loved ones closer than ever.
This is not a book to read when one is in a hurry. If you have a stack of things to “get through” and want to check this off the list, I urge you to put it aside until you have time to savor the language, and the languorous time of childhood when small realities intrude upon days of fantasy and play.

The time is Argentina in the 1970’s, when political disappearances are common. A new government has taken over from the Peron government and suddenly opponents of the new government find themselves...more
I remember hearing about the 'disappeared' when I was a kid - the rumours (were they rumours?) that people were being kidnapped, thrown out of aeroplanes and never seen again. That's something that stays with you forever... I've thought about it from time to time ever since, and it only seems more ghoulish the older I get.

This is the backdrop to Kamchatka, told from the viewpoint of a small boy whose parents are in the political firing line (a poor choice of phrase, probably). He's a smart kid,...more
Friederike Knabe
He calls himself 'Harry' now, after his new hero, the famous escape artist, Harry Houdini, hoping that one day he, too, will be a successful escape artist. Discovering a book about Houdini, the ten-year-old boy finds a new source of inspiration. Without warning, his family had to leave their comfortable house in Buenos Aires with nothing but the bare essentials; they are now hiding in an abandoned country house, a "safe-house". Among all the things he misses, his favourite board game 'Risk' is t...more
Il dramma del colpo di stato in Argentina nel 1976 e dei desaparecidos visto attraverso gli occhi sgranati di un ragazzino di 10 anni, con la passione per Superman, il Risiko e Houdini.
Harry non è consapevole di quanto lo circonda; non comprende - allora - perché lui e la famiglia debbano lasciare la propria casa, cambiare identità. Perché ci siano domande che non possano essere formulate, cose di cui non si possa parlare, persone che non tornano più.

La sua immaginazione fervida, l'utilizzo fant...more

Das Buch ist, wie schon die Süddeutsche zu berichten weiß, einfach „fabelhaft“ (auch wenn ich das Wort nicht gerne benutze: es klingt so ähnlich wie das „sagenhaft“, das deutsche Touristen so gerne verwenden, wenn das Frühstück reichhaltig war und die Eingeborenen nicht gestört haben).

Es widerlegt eine Menge Vorurteile gegen eine bestimmte Art von Büchern, die ich schon immer gerne gehegt habe:

1. Bücher, die aus der Perspektive von Kindern geschrieben werden. Hier habe ich immer den...more
Fun, lovely, horrific and fascinating book. The story of a young Argentinian boy during the Dirty War. His parents are Peronista revolutionaries who flee their home in Buenos Aires and assume new identities in an effort to keep the family together. The story develops through the eyes of "Harry" --his assumed named as the family assumes the surname "Vincente" after the character in the TV show the Saint. Harry's musings range from the powers of Houdini and superman to saving frogs from drowning i...more
Kamchatka is a wonderful novel. It is set in Argentina in 1976, the year of the military coup and the start of the 'dirty war' in which thousands of politically progressive people were rounded up and 'disappeared'. The novel is told mostly from the point of view of the ten year old son of a lawyer and a scientist who are on the run from the coup government. He and his five year old brother ("The Midget") are bundled up and taken to a disused country house, a safe house, to avoid the military pol...more
Hayley Alexis
An Inspiring, Life-Affirming Novel (from Argentina!)
Kamchatka? Is it a foreign candy? A Native American tribe? For 10-year-old Harry, it's a frozen Russian peninsula—the last stronghold in his favorite game of Risk—and the last thing his father whispers to him before disappearing llike so many other political activists in the '70s during the Argentine "dirty war." When friends start going missing, the Vincente family is forced into a state of suspended animation as they leave their life behind a...more
Shonna Froebel
This novel is told by a man looking back at a few months from his childhood the year he was ten.
Structured like a school day with each section a subject, this book follows a young boy in Argentina in 1976. His parents have spoken out against the government and feel threatened. They pull him and his younger brother, referred to as Midget, out of school in the middle of the day, whisking them off to a house in the country with only the items they have with them. His favourite game is Risk. In Risk...more
Judith Hannan
I bought this book over a year ago thinking a story about political rebellion in mid-1970s Buenos Aires was going to be some kind of treatise. I was so wrong. Figueras has written a loving and human story. The story is simple. Told in the voice of a man revisiting his childhood, the reader is brought into the intimate family life of a husband and wife, both dissidents, and their two sons. The man's memories are detailed,authentic, and often laugh-out-loud funny as he shows his younger self and t...more
As with all historic fiction, the more one knows about the period, the richer the read. And when I don't know, I am prompted to learn the history. This novel is set during Argentina's military dictatorship, 1976-1984 or so, a time of repression, witch hunts, and people disappearing.

Distance is created by two things: The perspective is of an elder, reflecting on life, on past actions, philosophizing. And often the narration slips into the voice of a ten-year-old boy who is somewhat removed from p...more
Via the eyes, ears and inner world of a young boy in Buenos Aires, this powerful novel brings to life the atmosphere of disquiet and desperation following Argentina’s military coup of 1976. Our hero is ten and lives in a world of superheroes, school lessons and games of Risk, trying to keep his troublesome little brother, the Midget, from breaking everything he touches, and playing Hangman with his best friend during biology class. His playful father is a human rights lawyer, his mother a physic...more
I chose this after listening to Harriet Gilbert discuss it on "A Good Read", broadcast on the BBC. Set in 1970s Argentina, and told from the point of view of a 10 year old, after his parents take the family into hiding. When the family flees, they have to change their names, and our narrator changes his name to Harry, after Harry Houdini - the only things he finds in his room in the safe house is a book about the escape artist. Harry's parents - his mother a professor and his father a lawyer , a...more
Mark Staniforth
Beautiful and elegaic, this book tells the heart-breaking story of a family torn apart by the Argentinian military junta in the 1970s. It's told from the point of view of a 10-year-old boy, who uses superheroes and board games to keep the truth at bay in the best way he can. At times it's both funny and chilling, but in a certain respect its beauty and cleverness is also its slight failing: the plot sometimes plods; the terror, always there in the background, never quite comes to the fore; some...more
A story about a military coup in Argentina may not sound like enjoyable reading, but in Kamchatka it's told from the point of view of a 10 year old boy, whose focus is not on the coup itself, but on how the coup effects his family and the relationships within the family. And his access to his favourite TV programmes. The book captures very well a child's view of the world - an awareness of bigger things but largely ignoring them to focus on more important small details of everyday life, such as...more
Kathy Hiester
Kamchatka is a pragmatic imagining of a child’s understanding of a country in political turmoil. The potential dangers come from eavesdropping on vague conversations. The narrator spends most of his time describing his amusing adventures with his younger brother, his efforts to imitate Harry Houdini and his obsession with Superman. The overall effect is that of a happy childhood occasionally marred by darker overtones. The narrator’s voice is enchantingly youthful and buoyant. The novel thrives...more
Andra Watkins
Against the backdrop of The Disappeared in Argentina, a little boy struggles to stay connected with what matters to him. His family is in hiding. His parents both lost their jobs. His little brother doggedly demands the things that make life stay the same. People ebb and flow from his life, while he spends more time saving the toads from death in the back yard pool. This book will make you hug someone you love, reach out to a person you need to touch, value a relationship anew. It is a gorgeous...more
Andy Weston
Made a special effort to read this as, living in Chile, I want to know more about the Argentinian problems of recent years.

This is extremely well-written and amusing despite it's subject matter. Thoroughly recommended to adults even though it's a book aged at teenagers.

Tremendous. Lots of good quotations and facts as a bonus also!

Also - one of those books with a very satisfying ending - special also for players of Risk!
Linda Cohen
What an absolutely wonderful book! I wish I could write a review that would do this justice. This could have been an extremely depressing book considering the subject matter(Argentina & the coup in the 1970's) but instead it's very sweet & moving. There was a moment a little more than half way thru that just about broke my heart in two. When I finished I just sat there,barely breathing.

Shanna Covey
We have a chance to enter the mind of a ten year old (interspersed with his adult perspective) as his world is turned upside down when his family is forced to go into hiding during Argentina's "Dirty War" in 1975.
Wow. This really resonated with me. I loved the lyrical writing style and the narrator's thought process and the Renaissance topic list. It will make you laugh, and then it will break your heart.
I loved this book. Told from the point of view of a ten-year-old during Argentina's dirty war, it is gentle, moving and hard to put down.
Aug 30, 2011 Maia rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Maia by: val
SO I finally get to this book--we saw the movie years ago, before our son was born, at the NYC Latin American Film Festival and I doubt I exaggerate when I say there was not a dry tear in the theater at the end of it. Not that it was a particularly good movie (just so-so) but the story was seen through the boy's eyes was heartbreaking. Now that I'm mother to a boy soon to be that age, it breaks my heart even more--especially, of course, because it hits so close to home for me.

As to the book itse...more
As I read I kept thinking: "Is this author primarily a screenwriter?" until I finally looked the author up online and discovered Figueras did indeed write this novel first as a screenplay.

So here is what is wrong with a novel that is first conceived as a screenplay. There will be no clear sense of an inner narrative voice driving the story. The details will be scanty. There will be no depth in the writing and every scene will feel a little bit shortchanged, word-wise--because after all the film...more
1976 in Argentinien, Buenos Aires: Ein Junge wird aus seinem genehmen Alltagsleben herausgerissen und muss mit seiner Familie aufs Land flüchten, denn seine Eltern sind regime-kritisch eingestellt und nach dem politischen Umbruch im Land herrscht Unsicherheit. Harry und sein kleiner Bruder, Zwerg genannt, sind zunächst wenig begeistert von dieser abrupten Umstellung - Harry vermisst seine Freunde, Zwerg seinen geliebten Goofy und seine Kakao-Tasse. Doch das Leben geht natürlich weiter und mit de...more
I almost put it down, because it was a lot of reflection and talking about the narrators feelings. (Although I fully acknowledge the legitimacy of reflecting on and having lots of feelings about Argentina's Dirty War, but those things generally don't make me want to read a book). But all the reflecting grew on me, and it ended up being beautiful. I enjoyed that it wasn't a plot heavy book, but told stories from a short time frame mixed with deep thoughts.
One of the best books I have read this year. The reality of this time in Argentina's recent history is always in your awareness, lurking and chilling, but the memory blurs this even more than the child's perspective. It's terribly sad, you know even before opening the cover what is coming and yet it isn't so pervasive that the rest of the story is overshadowed. Children are brilliant and resiliant, always shaped by the adult world but somehow finding themselves in spite of dirty wars and horribl...more
I really liked this book. Good characters, beautifully rendered plot, lovely, charming aesthetics and great style. If you want to know how it feels to live under the Peronist dictatorship from a 10 year old's point of view this is the book for you.
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“I know it doesn't sound logical but that's the way it is ' said papá. 'There are people who try to control the people they love or try to make them feel insecure or inferior or unworthy. They can be very hurtful but they're the sad people. They're afraid of being abandoned they're afraid of not being loved.' pg 116” 4 likes
“If life was a movie and someone asked you what kind of a movie it was the best answer would be: it's a movie that makes you laugh and cry at the same time. Grandpa knew that. pg. 223” 3 likes
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