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ebook / ISBN-13: 9781529418644

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“One of the great novels to have been written in our language” MARIO VARGAS LLOSA

“Beautifully written and gripping” Guardian

He thought that memories were invisible like light, and just as smoke made light show, there must be a way for memories to be seen…

In October 2016, the real-life Colombian film director Sergio Cabrera is attending a retrospective of his films in Barcelona. It’s a difficult time for him: his father, Fausto Cabrera, has just died; his marriage is in crisis; and his country has rejected peace agreements that might have ended more than fifty years of war.

In the course of a few turbulent and intense days, Sergio will recall the events that marked the family’s life, and especially his father’s, his sister Marianella’s and his own.

From the Spanish Civil War to the exile of his republican family in Latin America, and from the Cultural Revolution in China to the guerrilla movements of 1960s Latin America, not only will do we discover a series of adventures extraordinary by any standards, but also a devastating portrait of the forces that for half a century turned the world upside down and created the one we now inhabit.

Retrospective is a revelatory and unforgettable novel.

Translated from the Spanish by Anne McLean


Hours and hours of recordings and conversations over the years have resulted in an extraordinary novel of adventures and nightmares, a ruthless exploration of the delusions of political utopianism and moral totalitarianism, an excursion into the dark and buried side of history when history becomes political faith
Jordi Gracia, El Pais
A true international writer
Yiyun Li, New York Times
One of the great novels to have been written in our language
Mario Vargas Llosa, El Pais
A fascinating novelistic narration of the adventures of the family of the filmmaker Sergio Cabrera, that travels through the twentieth century and three continents, from the flight of his father and grandfather in the Spanish Civil War to his own participation in the Colombian guerrilla after a Kafkaesque and bizarre revolutionary training in China
La Vanguardia
It bites, it hits, it hurts pain, it makes sparks fly. Literature struggles to become life and life struggles to be told. Such an incredible book!
Manuel Rivas
Written with an enviably full style and a superb control of the novelist's impulses
La Vanguardia
A lucid and subtle metaphor for how ideologies marked the private lives of the twentieth century
El Cultural
Vásquez is a Colombian writer with the talent to keep a magician's equilibrium between reality and fiction. . . . Beautifully written and gripping
Gioconda Belli, Guardian
The story of their political indoctrination, active deployment, growing unease and ultimate disillusionment is both fascinating and terrifying
Melissa Harrison, Guardian