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Red April

( Félix Chalcatana #1)

3.65  ·  Rating details ·  2,813 ratings  ·  279 reviews
A chilling, internationally acclaimed political thriller, Red April is a grand achievement in contemporary Latin American fiction, written by the youngest winner ever of the Alfaguara Prize–one of the most prestigious in the Spanish-speaking world–and translated from the Spanish by one of our most celebrated literary translators, Edith Grossman. It evokes Holy Week during ...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published April 28th 2009 by Pantheon (first published 2002)
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Average rating 3.65  · 
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How best to express the horrors of a bloody civil war whose memory is still painful? How can one probe into wounds which are still open and smarting? An answer might be provided by literature in general, and genre literature in particular. One could cite as an example Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s “Cemetery of Forgotten Books” series, haunted by the memories of the Spanish Civil War. Zafon’s bestselling novels have shown that how the Gothic, so often dismissed as ‘mere’ entertainment, can successfully eng ...more
Jun 09, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who liked Balada Triste de la Trompeta
Shelves: novels
Santiago Roncagliolo has written a novel that is evidently aimed at the popular taste for a mixture of lurid violence, rapid-moving story and surprising twists. If you have seen Alex de la Iglesia's Christmas movie Balada Triste de la Trompeta, you get the idea that this stuff sells.

The intelligent parts of the book drop out of the characters' mouths like the scrolls in medieval paintings. This is story-telling for people who like to see things written in capitals with double underlining and exc
Paul Fulcher
Oct 10, 2018 rated it liked it
Get one thing in your head: in this country there is no terrorism, by orders from the top. Is that clear?

Abril rojo by the Barcelona-based Peruvian author Santiago Roncagliolo was a best-seller in Spain and won the prestigious Premio Alfaguara de Novela in 2006.

And rendered into English by Edith Grossman (known for her translations of Mario Vargas Llosa, Gabriel García Márquez, Álvaro Mutis, and Miguel de Cervantes) it won the 2011 Independent Foreign Fiction Prize (forerunner of the Man Booke
Sep 18, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Good but not great. This novel is well-written, with captivating passages and creative imagery. But this detective story lacked coherence, a fatal flaw for that genre.

It speaks poorly of a novel when its last pages are devoted to the perpetrator explaining in detail what he did and why...if that's the case what do we need an investigator for? Better luck next time, Roncagliolo.
Mar 22, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book did not live up to its potential. The unusual protagonist, the historical backdrop, the thematic material, and the imagery should have come together to produce something much more compelling. Roncagliolo came up with a good story to tell, but does a poor job telling it. The writing is mostly shallow and boring. I can't blame it on Edith Grossman, who is one of the best translators working. Skip the book and hope someone adapts it into a movie. ...more
This is a mix of Peruvian political thriller/commentary along with a murder/serial killer type mystery. I feel the former held together better than the latter in this book.

The Author's Note at the back of the book includes the following:
"The Senderista methods of attack described in this book, as well as the countersubversive strategies of investigations, torture, and disappearance, are real. Many of the dialogues of the characters are in fact citations taken from Senderista documents or the s
WOW what a book. This book should be a 4.5 star in my opinion. The author was suggested by a Goodreads friend and this book hooked me from the first page. The book itself won the Premio Alfaguara de Novela in 2006 and I can see why. This is a tense, political thriller set during Holy Week that Roncagliolo used his own country's recent war with the Shining Path guerrillas as material.

"Red April" begins with the gruesome find of a body burnt beyond recognition as reported by the Assistant Public
Aug 27, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: foreign-lit, fiction
Scandinavian crime fiction is the hot new wave, a new niche of bestsellers combining mystery, thrillers and, occasionally, social themes and history. Despite the buzz around fiction from Northern Europe, Red April , the first book by Peruvian author Santiago Roncagliolo to be translated into English, can stand its own in any comparison.

Red April is built around Peru's deadly internal warfare of the late 20th Century. Associate District Prosecutor Félix Chacaltana Saldívar has voluntarily tran
Marc Nash
Jun 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I invested in this book on the strength of a review I read. I hope I can transmit the same fervour to you now having read it. Forget your "2666", this is as they say in the Old World, 'the dog's bollocks'.

It is set in the post civil conflict of Peru, with Sendero Luminoso's (a Year Zero Communist guerilla movement) leader Abimael Guzman jailed and the movement having faded away. Sendero's campaign was brutal, as was the government's counter-insurgency to meet it. Guzman himself and some of the i
Rowland Pasaribu
Aug 02, 2010 rated it liked it
Red April takes place from March through early May, 2000, largely in the provincial Peruvian city of Ayacucho. Associate District Prosecutor Félix Chacaltana Saldívar was recently transferred here from Lima -- the reverse of everyone's ambition. He requested the transfer: after the dissolution of his marriage he wanted to come back to his hometown, and his mother. His mother has long been dead, but she really, really lives on in his memory; indeed, at home he behaves as if she were still alive a ...more
Dec 02, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Santiago Roncagliolo's Red April: A Novel is a creepy yet engrossing mystery set in Peru in March-April 2000. It focuses on the fight against Sendero Luminoso in Ayacucho.

Félix Chacaltana Saldívar is a prosecutor put in charge of investigating a particularly grisly murder he thinks should be attributed to Sendero, and he starts to unravel a series of killings for which he ultimately starts to feel responsible, because all the people he talks to end up
Mark Staniforth
Mar 13, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It sounds kind of unsexy: an officious, over-zealous prosecutor going about his business in provincial Peru. But Roncagliolo has written an oddly addictive book. It's sort of a thriller, as the prosecutor finds himself investigating a series of horrific murders which may or may not signify the re-emergence of the presumed dormant Peruvian terrorist group, the Shining Path. If the plot is at times a little too clunky and contrived to zip through on that basis alone, where this book wins is in its ...more
Betty Asma
Dec 13, 2010 rated it it was amazing
A truly amazing book that is suspenseful to the end and that has several mysteries going on together for which the reader has to wait for closure. Who is writing the misspelled letters and the 'Senderista' notes? What happened in the 1980's that's related to Mar-May 2000? Who is the serial killer, why are the victims chosen, and why are they murdered in the manner they are? Despite the first murder in the beginning, things get even more difficult and mysterious during the elections and the Holy ...more
Abandoned about two thirds of the way through.
I appreciated the portrait of a section of Peru I was getting.
I didn't care for the protagonist, an obtuse straight-laced inocente who keeps a room in homage to his dead mother. It's hard to spend so much time with someone so uninteresting.
And lastly, there just wasn't enough of a mystery-thread pulling me along...
Mar 06, 2016 rated it did not like it
I liked the start of this but as it progressed I got increasingly annoyed by the main character. I get the point about what the author is saying about Peru, but it did not work for me.
Mal Warwick
Mar 09, 2021 rated it really liked it
Most Americans today associate international terrorism with Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and their many radical Islamist offspring and imitators. Sadly, though, these groups are just the latest examples of a perverted indulgence in violence that has cropped up all over the world since the 1960s. The Baader-Meinhof Gang in Germany and the Weather Underground in the USA. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka. And so very many more. But one of the most destructive a ...more
Apr 09, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: peru
I read this a part of the invisiblecities 2020 project where we are reading translated fiction from three countries a month. Trigger warnings for sexual and other violence

The setting is in post civil war Peru, where the Shining Path has supposedly been suppressed but corruption and confusion mix with a hybrid of catholicism and pre Columbian faith . As an exploration of the brutality, legacy and endemic poverty of an area at the heart of the atrocities this book stands up well

Our protagonist i
Dec 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
THE BEST BOOK I have read this year. And I have read many in 2020. Wow. Wow.
Associate District Prosecutor Felix Chacaltana Saldivar does everything by-the-book, he is organised and knowledgeable on the laws of the land but this tends to rub people the wrong way. When a body is found burnt beyond recognition, Chacaltana’s life is never going to be the same. The investigation into this unique murder leads the associate District Prosecutor to question the choices the government are making. Set during Holy Week in Peru, Red April is a chilling political thriller that explor ...more
This book describes the story of a newly appointed attorney, Chakaltana, in a town in the Peruvian Andes, called Agiacucho, as he tries to sort out a crime. A burnt man is found and no one seems to care other than Chakaltana. As expected, all the highly positioned people are corrupt to the bone and want to hide their history as they are responsible for atrocities and massive killings during the war with the communist party. Here comes Chakaltana with a peculiar obsession with following the rules ...more
Kathleen Dixon
Nov 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
What a chilling book. Prosecutor Felix Chacaltana Saldivar is a boring pedantic minor bureaucrat who has returned from Lima to the town of his birth. He files reports that are never read, he makes daily requisitions for the same items, he believes in the letter of the law.

Twenty years ago, the rebels in Peru were overcome and terrorism doesn't exist any more. That, at least, is the official line. But when a particularly grisly murder is discovered, and the necessity to write a report lands on C
Mar 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
Red April is a not that much intense but very intriguing book. I wouldn't describe it as a political novel but more as a political thriller. It has nice characters, and behind a very interesting plot we can identify social and political background. I think that Roncagliolo has clear influences from the great writer of his country, I mean Llosa of course, not exactly for his writing but more of the topics he chooses to fill with his books. His prose is quite simple and not that complex as Llosa u ...more
Apr 10, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
At first, since Latin American and Hispanic literature is currently so bereft or real talent, the prospect of an intellectually stimulating police novel seemed stirring. However, as the pages unfold and the see-through whodunit plot sticks weakly together, it seems to not even match the flow of a James Ellroy novel or even Gillian Flynn's yarns. Alas, Roberto Bolaño he is not.
It has a lot of gratuitous gore; not disturbing, actually; it reads like the screenplay of a cheap Hollywood zombie film.
Jul 28, 2015 rated it liked it
This book introduced me to a dark chapter of Peruvian history - the political/terrorist group Sendero Luminoso which operated primarily in the province of Ayacucho in the 1980's. The story takes place in 2000, and the protagonist,Félix Chacaltana Saldívar is a prosecutor investigating a heinous murder which he connects to Sendero.

What really stood out is the character of Saldívar, who is a highly unusual protagonist. He has virtually no EQ - he is incapable of reading people or body language, a
I so wanted to like this novel. What's not to like? On the surface a serial killer investigation started by a previously reticent, paper pushing State Proscutor called Felix Chacaltana, which is interweaved with several interesting themes including religion, politics and terrorism and set during the struggles between Peru's ruling junta and the Shining Path rebels. But I just found it very slow and strangely written. Often I felt it read like a satire with Felix being a sort of unbelievably inno ...more
Mar 17, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 05, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: travel-the-world
Felix Chacaltana Saldivar, Associate District Prosecutor has come back to Ayacucho, Peru to take up his current position. He has been asked to write up a report about a man found dead. Chacaltana doesn't like what he sees when he views the body, because there are marks suggesting that the Shining Path might be responsible. Has terrorism started up in this small country again? ...more
Kia Turner
May 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
Red April is definitely the coolest book I've read out here during my study abroad in Barcelona. Roncagliolo takes the classic feel we get from the detective story, or from film noir and turns it into a political and ideological statement on the history of Peru. Extremely well done, from beginning to end - definitely would recommend. ...more
John Guzzardo
Feb 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
Interesting story about the communist insurgency in South America during the 1980s. Roncagliolo paints a very accurate depiction of this era, with intrigue, betrayal, lust and death abounding.
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Santiago Roncagliolo (Lima, 1975) ha vivido en México, Perú y España. Su libro Abril rojo (Alfaguara, 2006) lo convirtió en el ganador más joven del Premio Alfaguara de Novela., y está en vías de traducción a más de diez idiomas. Su novela Pudor (Alfaguara, 2004) ha sido llevada al cine. Además, ha publicado El príncipe de los caimanes y los cuentos de Crecer es un oficio triste. También ha escrit ...more

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