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The War of Don Emmanuel's Nether Parts (Latin American Trilogy)

4.05  ·  Rating Details ·  4,762 Ratings  ·  285 Reviews
This rambunctious first novel by the author of the bestselling Corelli's Mandolin is set in an impoverished, violent, yet ravishingly beautiful country somewhere in South America. When the haughty Dona Constanza decides to divert a river to fill her swimming pool, the consequences are at once tragic, heroic, and outrageously funny.
Paperback, 368 pages
Published July 29th 1997 by Vintage (first published 1990)
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Mar 18, 2009 Fabian rated it it was amazing
This is the type of book I relish: Epic, with myriad POVs and, therefore, a plethora of characters: satirical, tragicomic. How can somebody possibly populate this South American Question Mark of a Town? de Bernieres is on the same line as Tolkien and John Kennedy Toole-- his characters are fleshy and complicated. The war is fought at many angles and everybody has a part to play.

Don Emmanuel makes a "Queen-Elizabeth-in-"Shakespeare in Love""-like cameo, & yet his name is bestowed upon the tit
May 13, 2015 Algernon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015

Life is nothing if not a random motion of coincidences and quirks of chance; it never goes as planned or as foretold; frequently one gains happiness from being obliged to follow an unchosen path, or misery from following a chosen one. How often can one refrain from wondering what portentuous events may not have arisen from some trivial circumstance which thereby has acquired a significance far beyond itself?

A spoiled matron wants to divert the local river in order to replenish the water in her
I couldn’t resist tapping into the early work of an author who flashed like a comet into my reading pleasure with his delightful and stirring “Captain Corelli’s Mandolin” (1994) and “Birds Without Wings” (2004). While the former delved into a Greek island community invaded by Italians in World War 2. the latter rendered a portrait of a multicultural community in Anatolia shaken from death throes of the Ottoman empire and World War 1. Here our ensemble cast is from a village in some nameless Sout ...more
Aug 11, 2007 Max rated it it was amazing
What can I say? This book is great. Louis de Bernieres really gets Latin America. I mean, any author can write about how tragic it is to live in a contemporary Latin American country (amid crushing poverty, constant unrest, military rule, etc). What de Bernieres recognizes is that everyday life in Latin America is also totally hilarious. This book empathizes with people in tragic circumstances by laughing at them. And, just as important, laughing with them and having them laugh at the reader. No ...more
Scribble Orca
Nov 05, 2012 Scribble Orca rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone

How could I have forgotten this gem?

This is what arises when one reads old letters intended for friends that have remained unsent, a kind of temporal journal of misplaced memories in which startling revelations unfold: did I do that? Oh....yes, I remember - that's what happened...ooooh, that wasn't very clever, was it?

So...this book. I have no idea why it was so impressive so many years ago. It just was. Here's what I had to say about it in this long-lost-recently-resurfaced piece of co
Elizabeth (Alaska)
This is the first of Louis de Bernières Latin American Trilogy and his debut novel. Although I was drawn in from the beginning, it seemed at first that the story was too fragmented. There are a lot of characters making up several groups of characters, each having its own plot line. I was inclined to want more of the one with Don Emmanuel and his nether parts, much of which was laugh out loud funny. But this novel is also described as tragicomic. In fact, one of the plot lines is particularly dar ...more
Jan 08, 2013 F.R. rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I last read ‘The War of Don Emmanuel’s Nether Parts’ about twenty years ago. I remember it as being a frustrating experience, that for all its colour and vibrancy it was a book which annoyed me. But then, as some books manage to do, it lingered in my mind – like the shadow of some half-forgotten dream – and even though two decades had passed I couldn’t shake the feeling that there was something in ‘The War of Don Emmanuel’s Nether Parts’ worthwhile exploring further.

So I read it again.

Written be
Dec 23, 2013 Salathiel rated it did not like it
I feel inherently bad whenever I decide to rate a book with such a dismal rating as “1 Star.” Yes, I am fully aware that my opinionated “1” means diddlysquat in the totality of things; that I am just a minuscule reader, one of millions, and my less than stellar rating is predictable should a publisher or an author apply even the most rudimentary standards of the law of averages. Yet even so, there is a dread and a hollowness that comes when I find myself decisively clicking “1” as a measure of t ...more
Dec 19, 2007 Reid rated it it was amazing
Anyone who wishes to write fiction should read this book but prepared to be disappointed - in your own abilities in comparison with de Bernieres, who has swiftly become one of my favorite English writers. His style, plot, humor and candor make him irresistible, as does his subject matter, in this case, the impoverished campesinos of a mythical South American country. De Bernieres is like an English Marquez, crafting a land of magical realism with all the ugliness of the real world. De Bernieres' ...more
There are far too many characters and events to offer a sensical summary, but I'll give it a shot. We're in an imaginary South American country where an endless battle is going on between the government, the military, and guerilleros (many are communist) with civilians more or less suffering the consequences. This book is hilarious and fun to read and doesn't feel even remotely tragic, despite the fact that it's extremely violent and gory - there is rape, murder, torture, kidnapping, gun and mac ...more
Apr 27, 2009 Charlaralotte rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2009
Wow. Stupendous. Magnificent. This ranks right up there with Garcia Marquez and Allende. Glorious Latin American magical realism. So wonderful to read every step of the way. Brilliant, insightful, incisive, sly. And every character so fully drawn--I could pick each one out in a crowd. To write like this, in epic proportions, drawing from all walks of life and all types of human reasoning... what a truly wonderful talent to have. Can't wait to read his other books.

Too bad that movie version of "C
A. Dawes
Feb 18, 2017 A. Dawes rated it really liked it
I'm in two minds whenever I enter a de Beneieres' novel. I loved Captain's Corelli's Mandolin (please don't judge this book by the subpar film, and/or Nicolas Cage's joke of a performance); yet I loathed Birds Without Wings; and after three swings at the very twee Partisan's Daughter, I eventually struck out without finishing.

Yet this novel works: it has a cast of larger than life characters, it's satirical and darkly comical, and it also has liberal doses of South American style magical realis
Mar 02, 2011 Jonathan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It has a great many ideas but often seems like de Bernieres is just using them without reason. When it's good, it's very good, it has the power to be charming, heartfelt, shocking and humorous all at the same time (the chapter introducing of Parlanchina is a great example). Unfortunately, some of the less powerful ideas drag the pace, especially when each idea rarely has any significance in later chapters of the book. It's more like 40 odd loosely connected short stories about a fictional south ...more

The War of Don Emmanuel’s Nether Parts – Louis De Bernieres
4 stars

“Life is nothing if not a random motion of coincidences and quirks of chance; it never goes as planned or as foretold; frequently one gains happiness from being obliged to follow an unchosen path or misery from following a chosen one. “ Louis De Bernieres – The War of Don Emmanuel’s Nether Parts

I’m reading Bernieres backward. I started with Birds Without Wings and I’ve been working my way backward through his publication history.
Z evropského pohledu na věc je Jižní Amerika "ten kontinent s armádními puči, drogovými kartely a přepjatým náboženským cítěním" - a přesně těmto třem fenoménům se ve své trilogii Bernières věnuje. A také vzpourám proti nim, protože všechny tři se snaží ovládat a omezovat lidi a někteří z hrdinů trilogie se proti tomu rozhodnou bojovat.

První díl se zaměřuje na armádu, opakované vojenské převraty, intrikování, násilnosti a "mizení" nepřátel. A také na zhoubný vliv moci - protože velitel likvidačn
Aug 17, 2011 Malin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-books
This is the first of de Bernieres' Latin American trilogy, set in a fictional South American country, heavily resembling Colombia (but with elements from many other Latin American countries as well). The plot follows multiple story lines and protagonists, including several villagers in the town of Chiriguaná, who are terrorized by corrupt militia, and the selfishness of the local landowners, and eventually decide to fight back. Other parts of the story show the terrible corruption of the militar ...more
Dec 18, 2011 Mitch rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
I like Louis de Bernieres' writing quite a bit. He manages to do some very difficult things and make them look easy, too- always the mark of someone expert at what they do. Somehow he can combine humor with very sad or violent situations.

And- there is certainly no lack of these types of situations in his work. The amount of cruelty from man to man in Louis' books is appalling. There is so much graphic torture, violent death, rape, etc....that it's terrible.

And still, somehow I like his work. I j
Jun 25, 2011 Joe rated it it was amazing
This is definitely one of my new favorite books. I enjoyed the previous book that I read by this author, and had lowered my expectations, but this one was even better.
It is definitely entertaining, but beyond that I was impressed by his ability to develop such a vast array of characters, create a world that was made up, but still could be anywhere. The details and subtleties of life and how things happened were the highlight of the book, and offered some excellent insight into why people and org
Sep 07, 2009 Jan rated it really liked it
This ripping good read is almost too perfect: written by a no doubt crotchety Englishman, this farce is a distillation of Latin American magical realism, with a plethora of outlandish stories all boiled down into sparkling and colorful set-pieces set loose to writhe on a sultry chessboard of human misery and almost cheerfully morbid political skullduggery.

The prose style is excellent (as twisty but of course far more accomplished than the sample provided by this amateur in the preceding paragrap
Jan 09, 2008 Amy rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: favorites
This book, along with the other two in the series (Senor Vivo and the Coca Lords and The Troublesome Offspring of Cardinal Guzman) are what I like to call my 'sick books' - they're the books that I always read when I'm home sick from work - they're always entertaining, but since I've read them so many times, I don't have to strain my ill brain trying to follow them. Probably I've read these three books more than any others for that very reason.

This one in particular is actually not the first one
Nov 18, 2013 Eric rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, award-winning
Beautiful story made up of many little stories. Loved reading it, especially when the many short stories came together and added to the already dense narrative.
While at heart it was a war story, this particular book shines as an example of magical realism, carrying with it the people of an imagined country, making you either love them or hate them, leaving you weeping or cheering at their various exploits.
Parts of the book were also highly relatable, with Kenya going through the same absurditi
Sep 26, 2013 Kaitlin rated it liked it
I loved Captain Corelli’s Mandolin. This, I didn't care for. The writing was nice, if rambling. Reminded me a bit of José Saramago. The book started strong but became tiresome as it wore on. It became clear that nothing was happening, many characters were abandoned, and the satire left something to be desired. Hard to follow, too, if you're not into it, which I wasn't.
Book Concierge
De Bernieres' debut novel begins when Dona Constanza decides to divert the river to fill her swimming pool and by so doing sets in motion a series of events that lead to chaos in the villages of this unnamed South American country. There is a huge cast of characters - military, politicians, industrialists, peasants, Indians, guerrillas, spirits and animals. He also sprinkles in words or phrases in Spanish, Portuguese, and Indian dialects - and even a few that he makes up entirely. De Bernieres i ...more
Kris - My Novelesque Life

"A story of life, love and politics in South America. When the spoilt and haughty Dona Constanza tries to divert a river to fill her swimming pool, she starts a running battle with the locals. The Government sends a squadron of soldiers led by the fat, brutal and stupid Figueras to deal with them." (From Amazon)

I wasn't really interested in the subject matter but the writing is well done.
Jun 29, 2008 Amyss rated it it was amazing
I guess the comparisons to Gabriel Garcia Marquez are inevitable, but come on, you could do much worse than be compared to THAT icon. And tho I absolutely adore Garcia Marquez, de Bernieres is more accessible and injects more humor in his amazing creations. If I could exist in any fictional world created by an author, it would be in this town. I cannot recommend this book, and the rest of his trilogy enough. Brilliant, hilarious, brutal, and vulgar. I am in love.
Dec 31, 2012 Angela rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was quite possibly one of the most violent and strangest books I've ever read, and I've read a *lot* of strange and violent novels over the years. It was also one of the most fascinating, clever and enjoyable ones, too - impossible to put down. Loved the cats, General Fuerte, Aurelio was just wonderful, and the narrative was simply magical. I can't wait to get lost in the next one!
Lara Calleja
Nov 08, 2015 Lara Calleja rated it it was amazing
Its a masterpiece. A hullabaloo (which somehow succeeds to make sense) of all the highlights of Latin America, its forests, its magic, its corruption, its revolution, its heat, its way of life, its passionate people and all of its energy - all merged into this fictioutius country which Bernieres creates.
Aug 15, 2014 prescribed rated it really liked it
Shelves: magic-realism
Was hard to get through the first half of this book as the perspective jumps around a lot and it is difficult to keep track of all the characters. But I am so glad I stuck with it. Was hilarious, beautiful, and terribly sad. Magic realism at its best.
Jul 26, 2010 Robert rated it it was amazing
Dense, radiant, and all too politically familiar. A great part of the trilogy. I can only read a few pages at a time. It takes a while to figure out this book.
Jan 27, 2009 Susan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is de Bernières’ first novel I think and it’s interesting to see how his later style is developing, with different sections devoted to very different characters and story types and with other sections devoted to history, politics, local traditions, and other typically “nonfiction” topics. I can see the writer of Corelli’s Mandolin developing here.

The influences behind this novel are clear: (1) de Bernières spent time teaching English in Colombia and that is clearly the unnamed republic in t
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The Curious Bibli...: The War of Don Emmanuel's Nether Parts 2 12 Jan 15, 2013 12:25PM  
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Novelist Louis de Bernières was born in London in 1954. He joined the army at 18 but left after spending four months at Sandhurst. After graduating from the Victoria University of Manchester, he took a postgraduate certificate in Education at Leicester Polytechnic and obtained his MA at the University of London.

Before writing full-time, he held many varied jobs including landscape gardener, motor
More about Louis de Bernières...

Other Books in the Series

Latin American Trilogy (3 books)
  • Señor Vivo and the Coca Lord
  • The Troublesome Offspring of Cardinal Guzman

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