A sweeping tale of conspiracy theories, assassinations, and twisted obsessions -- the much anticipated masterpiece from Juan Gabriel Vásquez.
The Shape of the Ruins is a masterly story of conspiracy, political obsession, and literary investigation. When a man is arrested at a museum for attempting to steal the bullet-ridden suit of a murdered Colombian politician, few notice. But soon this thwarted theft takes on greater meaning as it becomes a thread in a widening web of popular fixations with conspiracy theories, assassinations, and historical secrets; and it haunts those who feel that only they know the real truth behind these killings.
This novel explores the darkest moments of a country's past and brings to life the ways in which past violence shapes our present lives. A compulsive read, beautiful and profound, eerily relevant to our times and deeply personal, The Shape of the Ruins is a tour-de-force story by a master at uncovering the incisive wounds of our memories.
About the Author
Juan Gabriel Vásquez's previous books include the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award winner and national bestseller, The Sound of Things Falling, as well as the award-winning Reputations, The Informers, The Secret History of Costaguana, and the story collection Lovers on All Saints' Day. Vásquez's novels have been published in twenty-eight languages worldwide. After sixteen years in France, Belgium, and Spain, he now lives in Bogotá.
Anne McLean translates Latin American and Spanish novels, short stories, memoirs, and other writings. She has twice won both the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize and the Premio Valle Inclán, and received the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award with Juan Gabriel Vásquez for his novel The Sound of Things Falling. She lives in Toronto.
"Vásquez’s captivating, disquieting account of a writer’s journey through the shadowy terrain of his country’s past dynamically illustrates how violence damages survivors, lies erode society, and fiction can convey truths history omits." – Publishers Weekly, starred review
"A Paul Auster-style intellectual thriller… This book, by design, is immersive in the way quicksand is, pulling the reader in directions often best resisted… A fine work of art about the blurry line between truth and artifice."—Kirkus Reviews
"Teeming with crackpots and idealists, doomed leaders and those who would avenge their deaths, this is a novel with a surplus of interesting characters. Its plot, meanwhile, is constantly churning. Readers who think they can foresee what’s coming next will find that they’re wrong."– San Francisco Chronicle
"[A] sweeping and magisterial novel.”– Washington Post
"A return to form and a major achievement for la novela negra…Gabriel Vásquez has an incredible grasp on tone and manages to keep a certain aloofness to the novel’s voice, while simultaneously plunging us into distorted, traumatized minds. This is the novel I’ll be foisting on people all fall." – Crime Reads
"Juan Gabriel Vásquez is the most famous novelist to come out of Colombia since Gabriel García Márquez…Deftly weaving fact into fiction, the novel asks if official history can ever add up to more than victors’ propaganda that buries other versions of the past."—The Economist/ 1843 Magazine
"Juan Gabriel Vásquez's The Shape of the Ruins is a highly sophisticated, fast-moving political thriller set in Colombia and an excellent read." —Alan Furst
"One of the great novels of recent years." —Mario Vargas Llosa
"Juan Gabriel Vásquez's latest and most ambitious novel.... A dazzlingly choreographed network of echoes and mirrorings." —Times Literary Supplement
"A reinventor of Latin American literature in the 21st century." —Jonathan Franzen
"With utmost skill, Vásquez has us accompany him in his detective work, proposing a reflection on ghosts from the past and the inheritance of blame, doubt and fear." —El País
"Absolutely hypnotic, a display of tense, agile, intelligent narrative, it takes conspiracy to a whole other level." —El Cultural
Praise for Juan Gabriel Vásquez:
"Juan Gabriel Vásquez is a considerable writer." —E. L. Doctorow
"I felt myself under the spell of a masterful writer. Juan Gabriel Vásquez has many gifts—intelligence, wit, energy, a deep vein of feeling--but he uses them so naturally that soon enough one forgets one's amazement at his talents, and then the strange, beautiful sorcery of his tale takes hold." —Nicole Krauss
"Juan Gabriel Vásquez is one of the most original new voices of Latin American literature." —Mario Vargas Llosa
Praise for Reputations:
"The novel's brilliance is that we, wanting to know what happened to that sleeping girl, become Mallarino's accomplices; the novel's genius is that we, greedy for certainty, become Mallarino's prey. Like Samanta we are left with something unforgettable... Masterly." —Yiyun Li, New York Times Book Review
"Reputations is a profound, exquisitely observed, suspenseful and deeply moving novel. It confirms his status as one of the very finest writers of our time." —San Francisco Chronicle
"[A]n account of an old cartoonist eyeing his past and the shifting forms of perception, memory and truth. Brilliant." —Financial Times
"Vásquez is a penetrating force, and the most pressing Colombian writer today... Reputations is a powerful, concentrated achievement. It makes clear that our memories, and even the things we've forgotten, can come back to haunt us and make us question the true cost of our actions." —NPR
Praise for The Sound of Things Falling:
"[A] Brilliant new novel...gripping...absorbing right to the end. The Sound of Things Falling may be a page turner, but it's also a deep meditation on fate and death." —Edmund White, The New York Times Book Review
"Like Bolaño, [Vásquez] is a master stylist and a virtuoso of patient pacing and intricate structure, and he uses the novel for much the same purpose that Bolaño did: to map the deep, cascading damage done to our world by greed and violence and to concede that even love can't repair it." —Lev Grossman, Time Magazine
"An undoubted talent... Introspective and personal." —The Wall Street Journal
"Vásquez creates characters whose memories resonate powerfully across an ingeniously interlocking structure...Vásquez creates a compelling literary work—one where an engaging narrative envelops poignant memories of a fraught historical period." —The New Republic