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The Feast of the Goat
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1001 book reviews > The Feast of the Goat by Mario Vargas Llosa

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Diane  | 2051 comments Rating: 4 stars

Wow. This is now my favorite book from this author (so far). The writing is superb. It is a fictionalized account of the events surrounding the assassination of Dominican dictator Rafael Leónidas Trujillo Molina back in the early 1960's. This is the third book about cruel dictators and corrupt regimes that I've read in the last few days, quite unintentionally. I guess it comes with the territory when you read Latin American historical fiction. Back to the book: there are a three converging story lines leading to a dramatic climax. The action is often non-linear. The book tells of Trujillo, his future assassins, his devoted followers, and a daughter of one of Trujillo's top men. Trujillo was truly a horrible and manipulative man. His son may have been even worse. Definitely heavy-duty stuff and not for the faint of heart.

message 2: by Gail (last edited Nov 30, 2019 11:36AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Gail (gailifer) | 1526 comments I read The Feast of the Goat as part of the Diversity Challenge for 2019.

The Feast of the Goat is a fictionalized account of the last era of Rafael Leónidas Trujillo Molina's dictatorship in the Dominican Republic. The reader gets to not only imagine a number of scenarios that lead up to Trujillo's very factual assassination but to consider a number of individuals who had been impacted by his notorious brutality. The book explores the themes of this brutality and the economic devastation brought on by sanctions that the world used to attempt to control the dictator. The book also uses one woman's story as a stand in for the incredible harm a man with no restraints can do to a country full of strong woman.

At first I was confused by the fact that the various stories were not in a chronological order and the author, in the modern way, does not tip off the reader as to what part of the puzzle we are in. Also, the long Spanish names that are accompanied by short nicknames that have nothing to do with the long Spanish names took me a beat to get used to. However once I got into the actual flow of the book, having met and gotten to know the main characters, I really loved the writing. It is, of course, dangerous for an author to put themselves in the brain of a real person and give them what they imagine to be their motivations, desires and drives. In a way, letting a reader get to know a dictator and giving him some sympathetic characteristics runs counter to what Llosa was trying to accomplish. Also, the main female protagonist is in many ways not as dimensional as the male players which I thought was a shame although there is a good reason for that incorporated into the story. However, as flawed as this book may be in that way, I really thought it was amazingly architected. By half way through the book I was having trouble tearing myself away.

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