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3.38 of 5 stars 3.38  ·  rating details  ·  92 ratings  ·  14 reviews
Isabel, een antropologe van bijna 70 die is gespecialiseerd in begrafenisrituelen van primitieve volkeren, reist in haar eentje naar de jungle van Guatamala. Wanneer dicht bij haar verblijfplaats een Duitse vrouw verongelukt, wordt Isabel door een samenloop van omstandigheden met haar verward.
Dat macabere misverstand veroorzaakt een keerpunt in haar leven en dat van haar...more
Hardcover, 575 pages
Published 2006 by De Geus (first published 2004)
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22nd out of 31 books — 10 voters
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8th out of 18 books — 3 voters

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Community Reviews

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Nikki Magennis
A very interesting novel. I kept wanting to underline passages concerning lies and truth. The anthropological details were wonderful, and I liked the lightly sketched characterisations. Some digressions seemed a little unnecessary - particularly a subplot about a Russian couple that didn't quite go anywhere, and a story of a long-ago battle that was interesting but not wholly relevant.
Overall I suppose I'd call this novel uneven but worth the draggy bits. I was genuinely moved towards the end,...more
Jo Lin
This is superficial, really, but I was slightly annoyed that one of the two narratives was written entirely in italics. Since the narratives are divided into separate chapters, I didn't think this was entirely necessary and felt like everything was being emphasized.

As for the story itself, I don't know say in a more erudite fashion that it just didn't do it for me. I probably need to take more time to really think about the novel, but at first read it didn't really strike a chord.
emi Bevacqua
It was interesting reading about the work and studies of an anthropologist, but I didn't really get in to the whole narrative history of this family... I didn't like how each character seemed so locked in to their particular role, I just guess I didn't really care that much for them. Maybe I'd rather read a whole book about the Russian couple.
Parts of this were beautiful beyond explanation, and others I found myself skipping entirely. I think I appreciated it more when I finished reading it than during the actual reading. Stories, and, in some ways, lies, are a part of each of us.
An edited version of this article was first published as Book Review: Lies by Enrique de Hériz on

How much do you care about the truth? How far are you willing to go to uncover the truth? Conversely, how far are you willing to cover up a lie? These are just some of the questions that this multi-layered complex book tries to answer.

This book is the story of Isabel Azuera, who is an aged anthropologist, and her family. At the age of 69, she suddenly announces to her family that sh...more
This is an enchanting investigation into the nature of truth, where every event, in its retelling, passes into family lore and history through the creative processes of each narrator. As such, the mistakenly reported death of Isabel Garcia Luna in the depths of the Guatemalan jungle enables her to reflect on how her own husband's tales about their own famly history may have shaped their own children's lives. To her mind 'the past, like the future, can only be imagined'. Isabel's own professional...more
Kathleen Dixon
I took a long time to read this book, and half wondered from time to time if I was going to ever finish it. But every time I picked it up from under the rest of the pile beside the bed, I glanced at what I'd most recently read in it and wanted to know what was going to happen next. So, while I can't agree with the quote on the cover ('I was gripped from the start ...'), I do agree that it's worth reading.

An anthropologist who specialises in death customs is herself mistakenly thought dead. When...more
I liked the idea behind this book but didn't really like the execution of it. Isabel, an anthropologist in her 60's is mistakenly thought dead. The story goes back and forth between her writings, how the mistake happens, what she's going to do about it and her family's response, and their history, so there's lots of back and forth, unraveling of different family members stories and how so much of their lives were based on lies and how that changed them or didn't and did it make a difference. I d...more
Very well-written, thought-provoking novel examining the mythology that families and other groups create and pass on. The narration alternates between the older woman anthropologist who is mistakenly thought to be dead (and is in no hurry to correct that mistake), and her daughter back home in Spain, who obsesses about learning the truth about her family's history. I especially like the sections focusing on the mother; what a fascinating character the author has created here. Some of the family...more
Always nice to read a novel from a different country and this one from Spanish writer de Heriz is very good. It deals with the lies that families tell each other through the generations - to amuse, to mislead, or to preserve family ties. It is good how the various lies over the years all come together at the end when the presumed dead mother of this family is reunited with her husband and children.
Aug 31, 2010 Arantza rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: a quien se encuentre en un momento de cambio vital
fantastico libro sobre la libertad de escapar de una vida que oprime, encorseta y a la que se vuelve desde una posición nueva.
Good storytelling of a modern-day Spanish family and the lies that have been a part of their family in the past and the present.
Very interesting arena for discussions on funeral rites, death in various cultures, ethics of lies, truth.
This got a great and very intriguing review on the Bookslut blog
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Enrique de Hériz (1964) is one of the true storytellers. For years he worked as a lecturer, translator and publisher before he completely gave himself to writing. His first novel, El dia menos pensado, received overwhelmingly good reviews. In 2003 he was awarded the Premio UNED for short stories. His third novel, Mentira (Lies) was awarded the Spanish booktraders prize.
More about Enrique de Hériz...
The Manual of Darkness El Dia Menos Pensado Mentira Historia de desorden Handboek voor de duisternis

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“We don’t even survive in the memories of the living. Science has destroyed that myth. Whenever we remember something, what we’re doing is remembering the last time we remembered it; our memory doesn’t go back to the original notch, the first one was cut, but to the last one. Human memory is virtual, like that of a computer. When we open a file we’re not opening it as it was when we first created it, but as it was the last time we used it. It is called hypercathexis and is our brain’s most sophisticated recourse when it comes to confronting pain.” 7 likes
“…nostalgia is, by definition, the least authentic of all feelings.” 7 likes
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