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After the Bombs

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  42 ratings  ·  7 reviews
After the Bombs is a coming of age story that holds a mirror up to the modern history of Guatemala—a funhouse mirror of richly inventive and farcical black comedy which provides a better description of life in that country than any history book ever could. It opens with the bombing of Guatemala City in 1954 when the hero, Max, is a small child. In a swiftly moving narrativ ...more
Paperback, 221 pages
Published July 1st 1995 by Curbstone Books (first published 1979)
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Average rating 3.95  · 
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Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
I can’t say this is an objectively bad book, but I can say I really disliked reading it. It’s an absurdist version of Guatemalan history from the 1950s through 1970s, told through the eyes of a boy named Maximo as he grows toward adulthood. This passage toward the end, as Maximo begins to explore his own writing, seems to encapsulate its philosophy (translation is mine):

“I’ll exaggerate. I’ll lie. Chingolo says that to be understood one must lie. It’s another way of getting inside someone. Begin
Steve Kettmann
Aug 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This is my original review published in the San Francisco Chronicle in 1990:


By Arturo Arias, translated by Asa Zatz

Curbstone; 221 pages; $ 10.95

Arturo Arias, a Guatemalan writer who lives and teaches in Texas, works a vein of fiction that might be called Death Squad Realism.

Beyond the magical realism of Gabriel Garcia Marquez and other Latin American writers, Arias offers a novel piled relentlessly high with dismembered bodies and the stench of death. He loads ''After the Bombs''
May 16, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: lovers of Latin America & its novels.
Recommended to John by: the author, originally.
A remarkably assured first novel. After the bombs renders, in resonant magical realism, the damage done at all levels of Guatemalan society by the 1954 US bombing in protection of corporate interests (that is, United Fruit). Arias juggles horror and humor winningly, and takes us via fantasy to the core of a harsh Central American reality.
Apr 28, 2008 rated it liked it
Without a good sese of Guatemalan history this book would probably be confusing and boring, I´m sure there were some parts to it that were completely over my head. This book was ok, I wasn´t a fan of the beginning of the book but I´m glad I pushed on.
Daniel Jordan
Jul 29, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
a story about a boy growing up in the midst of war in guatemala. a little difficult to read, as there really isnt much proper sentence structure, nor quotation marks. but definitely a wonderful story none the less.
Apr 02, 2015 rated it it was ok
Not my favorite. Couldn't get into the chaotic narrative and lack of punctuation, and some of the more brutal scenes were really difficult for me to read.
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