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Imagining Argentina

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  1,223 ratings  ·  139 reviews
Imagining Argentina is set in the dark days of the late 1970's, when thousands of Argentineans disappeared without a trace into the general's prison cells and torture chambers. When Carlos Ruweda's wife is suddenly taken from him, he discovers a magical gift: In waking dreams, he had clear visions of the fates of "the disappeared." But he cannot "imagine" what has happened ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published November 1st 1991 by Bantam (first published August 18th 1987)
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Average rating 4.04  · 
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Will Byrnes
Oct 29, 2008 rated it really liked it
If you are forced to live in a nightmare, you survive by realizing that you can re-imagine it, that some day you can return to reality.

Lawrence Thornton - image from Simon & Schuster

Imagining Argentina is a very rich book considering its modest length. It tells of Carlos Rueda, a writer, who has an unusual gift. He can see what has happened to disappeared people when asked by those close to them. His ability allows him to see that his wife, a political journalist, is still alive even after
Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
The material is rich with dramatic possibilities: Argentina during the dark days of military dictatorship in the late 1970s when thousands disappeared, abducted and killed for opposing, or just being critical, of the military regime.

While I was reading it, for unknown reasons, I got this feeling that the author is constantly fighting off a personal inadequacy so that he keeps on failing to bring to a bursting point the heart of his readers which is how such a book should be to make it a good rea
Amanda Stecco
Apr 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
I found this book on a sidewalk in DC before I moved to Brooklyn and, being from Argentina, decided to pick it up. I figured I'd give it a read at some point.

I finally grabbed it one morning on my way to work and I am so glad I did. I FELT this book. A lot. The whole time I thought of my family and what those poor people went through. I imagined my own cousins and aunts and uncles and felt so sick to my stomach. But these things need to be remembered. It even prompted to me to ask my Nonna about
Jul 30, 2007 rated it it was amazing
It's Argentina week for me. I read this book last weekend, and saw my friends' documentary on the land grab involving Mapuche indians in Patagonia several days later. These two were mutually reinforcing. In the case of the dirty war, the shock was that we've forgotten so quickly; for the Mapuche, that we didn't know their houses were literally being ripped apart.

But I digress. This is a lovely story and a work of magical realism that tells the truth. The text is quite reserved -- told through a
Dec 09, 2008 rated it liked it
The first of Lawrence Thornton's trilogy about Argentina's "dirty war", "Imagining Argentina" is a nightmarish story of a children's theater director ,Carlos Rueda, whose outspoken wife and innocent daughter "disappear" during the period of right wing military rule following the ouster of Juan Peron's widow, Isabel Peron (1976-82).
Based on true stories of those who survived their abductions, Thornton weaves a tale using a "magical realism" style of writing that won this work the Hemingway/PEN
I read this book when it was first published in the late 80's. I have been meaning to reread it for awhile. The simple title describes so much about this story. It is about hope, and imagining the possibilities. I have lived in South America since reading this book, in southern Brazil which shares the gaucho culture, and vast countryside found in neighboring Uruguay and Argentina. I have also visited Chile three times since the late 90's. Brazil, Chile, and Argentina all experienced years of und ...more
Oct 17, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
this was given to me years ago, and last night i finally picked it up, despite its not-compelling cover. i can't put it down.


So in the end, I really liked this book. It was engaging from page 1, but held the pace through the end.

On a personal note, it took me back to Buenos Aires, which I had the pleasure of living in for a short while many years ago. And it made me want to go back effective immediately. But it showed me a much sadder, mystical side of the city.

The book uses magical rea
Dec 02, 2008 rated it really liked it
This was my second time reading this book and I liked it just as much this time through. It is set in Argentina during the "Dirty War" in the late 1970s. There was a military takeover, and while the Generals were in power thousands of people disappeared: children, students, dissenters, journalists, professors, etc. The government didn't acknowledge those who disappeared and there was a climate of fear and repression. Those taken were tortured and usually killed.

This book is about the power and
Peter Barlow
Jan 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Just reread after a long absence. Every bit as lush as I remember.
Jul 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Meghan Darigan

Imagining Argentina by Lawrence Thornton is the strange yet, intriguing story of a man named Carlos Rueda. Carlos has the incredible ability of being able to see the fates of those who have been taken by Argentina’s government through vivid visions. Carlos’ wife Cecilia is soon taken by Argentina’s government for writing a controversial article about children who went missing in La Paz and Carlos is grief stricken. Shortly after, when one of his theater students father is taken h
John Seymour
Jan 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An extraordinary story about the power of imagination and hope to triumph over evil. "Tell me your stories. Tell me what they have done." Carlos has a gift; when the mothers, wives, husbands, sons of the desaparecidos tell their stories, Carlos finishes the stories, the power of his imagination reaching out into the dark to intersect with and perhaps change the course of events. Carlos sees his battle as a battle of imagination between him and the Generals, different views of what Argentina shou ...more
Yehuda Prizont
Jul 26, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A book which deals with the very difficult issue of the military regime in Argentina during the mid 70's to early 80's - a regime which performed many atrocities. I believe the genre is referred to as historical fiction as it discusses events which really happened and people who really existed within a fictional tale of someone who is able to influence reality through his imagination. The tale is fantastic in nature, though interspersed with the telling of the horrid acts that happened during th ...more
Jun 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This is one of those books that proves "don't judge a book by its cover." The title doesn't sound all that interesting nor does the description on the cover, but this book blew me away. It reminds me of Midnight's Children, in that it's set during a time of political unrest and one of the characters uses magical abilities to connect with others in order to cope with the turmoil around them. The writing was excellent. It was a good balance of beautiful words and captivating plot. And most of all ...more
Jun 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing
It was hard for me to read this book. I understand the author's use of magic realism and clairvoyance to make the story poignant and haunting and ultimately, redeeming but even without these elements (which were very beautifully woven into the story), this book made me cry. I even had to put it down every once in a while. I can't begin to imagine how it feels to have a spouse, a daughter or son or any one close taken from you and know that they were being held against thier will, being tortured ...more
Nov 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: bookclub
Imagining Argentina is set in the dark days of the late 1970's, when thousands of Argentineans disappeared without a trace into the general's prison cells and torture chambers. When Carlos Ruweda's wife is suddenly taken from him, he discovers a magical gift: In waking dreams, he had clear visions of the fates of "the disappeared." But he cannot "imagine" what has happened to his own wife. Driven to near madness, his mind cannot be taken away: imagination, stories, and the mystical secrets of th ...more
Diane S ☔
Aug 20, 2012 rated it liked it
3.5 Argentina and the disappeared are poignantly portrayed by the creative use of magical realism. The story is related by a narrator who is just a witness to the magical powers of his friend as he tries to help others who are missing family or friends. His own wife is missing and though he can see what the others are going through he can't see through to find his wife. Loved the way this was written and once again a book to remind us of the atrocities committed, not very long ago but already mo ...more
For my Around the World challenge (Argentina).

Something about the "magic realism" in this novel about Argentina's Dirty War didn't work for me. There were elements of great story-telling here, but parts of the writing just seemed sloppy (unmotivated plot twists, far-fetched connections, "historical facts" that were thrown in but not developed or they weren't even accurate, etc). Still, I breezed through it in one day, eager to find out how the story ended, so there were certainly some redeeming
Nov 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This is probably one of my most favorite reads of all time because I learned about the "los desaprecidos" of Argentina told in a magical way that made it palatable. "The novel is about bearing witness and the ways of history itself." ...more
Sep 24, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Stories can save you.
Feb 17, 2011 rated it really liked it
This was a hard book to read. Hard because of the subject matter. I think it was well written and I am better for having read it, just saddened by the violence our world holds.
Jul 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Horrifying yet inspiring. A moral reminder and a must read
Mar 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is my third time reading Imagining Argentina - I saw it on my bookshelf and realized I had forgotten a lot about it, but remembered how much I liked this novel. It doesn't disappoint upon re-reading. Argentina's dirty war is something that happened relatively close to us, both geographically and in time; but is not something that is much discussed or even known about. That ordinary citizens could be kidnapped by the government, tortured and murdered in horrific ways, is something that we wh ...more
Steve Sanderson
Feb 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a good book about an almost inconceivably powerful topic: how a large sector of a homogeneous society -- not just the Generals, but also their troops, their secret police, compliant citizens and volunteer spies -- could betray and then slaughter 30,000 or more of three generations of their fellow citizens in a matter of six years. The novel's conceit is that of a community theater artist and playwright whose family falls victim to the murders. He develops a kind of clairvoyance that allo ...more
Dec 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The writing in this book is beautiful. I loved the way this author wrote his "imaginings" so eloquently...even though the topic was brutal. He tells of a time when the "military " was in charge in Argentina and taking people from their homes and off the streets for "violations" real or perceived toward the government. It details the tortures through the "imaginings" of Carlos, the director of a Children's Theatre. It didn't sound like anything I would want to read, but the author's way with word ...more
Aug 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
Very interesting book on a country I visited some time ago. I really liked the story, better than others I guess. The wife as portrayed greatly. I knew some people that went through the dictatorship back four decades ago, and this seemed very realistic of what they went through. Gladly the horror of those ages is gone from the country, it is a much better place despite some turmoil. Well worth reading if you want to understand what happened in Argentina during this time period.

Abby Warren
Sep 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is the book that made me want to be an English teacher. The story is powerful, the description is beyond compare and the depth of character is heart stopping. This is the book that introduced me to the world of magical realism which brought me to the author, Alice Hoffman. Thank you Lawrence Thornton for writing such an incredibly beautiful book.
I've fallen behind writing reviews of the books I've been reading this year, so I thought I'd try to write some shorter reviews just to catch up.

So, Imagining Argentina is one of the books Goodreads has been recommending to me for yonks, because I've read a number of other novels set in South American dictatorships in the same period – Of Love and Shadows, Senselessness, The Story of the Night, and most of Carolina De Robertis' work – and those are all fantastic reads if you're considering picki
Apr 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book has officially become my all time favorite book. The emotion in this story really won me over. I literally cried at multiple parts. It is an amazing book with amazing characters; the character Cecilia really makes the book amazing. I highly recommend this book.
Bonnie Ridley
Sep 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A magic realism view of the Argentine Dirty War of the 1970s and 1980s.
Nov 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
A re-reading of this book after traveling to Argentina. It is a fictional account of the brutal regime in that country with some magic realism thrown in. Important book.
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