Written by David William Foster (trans.) José Pablo Feinmann
Review by B. J. Sedlock

David William Foster translated, re-edited and condensed Feinmann’s 2009 novel. In 1970, Peronist rebels kidnap former Argentine president Pedro Eugenio Aramburu, take him to a farmhouse near the village of Timote, hold a mock trial, and assassinate him. The book examines the Montonero rebels’ personalities and motives during the planning and execution of the scheme. The Montoneros’ ideology gives them no qualms about using the same violent tactics as Aramburu’s 1950s military government used in ordering executions. The rebels intend for Aramburu’s death to avenge those he murdered, and also further their aim of bringing Juan Peron back from exile.

The author assumes that readers will be familiar with the historical facts, so those who know little about Argentine history should not skip the background information in Douglas Unger’s introduction. Since the story is non-linear and speculative, the plot can be confusing.

This is no beach book. Instead, it’s a novel which needs to be read with care and attention to detail in order to appreciate its ambiguities. Feinman is a philosopher as well as a writer, and incorporates thought-provoking passages, such as: “Do you want me to tell you what tragedy is? The fight between what is just and what is just,” and: “Fiction does not judge. It is the most impeccable instrument created by man for the expression of the complexity of existence.”

The novel ends on a note of ironic doom, since the reader knows what the rebels do not: that Aramburu’s death would be part of the chain of events that led to the Dirty War, where tens of thousands of people “disappeared,” including many Montoneros, during Argentina’s period of state terrorism in the 1970s.