Abril Rojo is a novel about contemporary violence in Peru, told using noir conventions. There is an undercurrent of humor throughout the story, in spite of its serious and grim subject matter. Its main character, the fiscal distrital adjunto Félix Chacaltana Saldívar, is very unaware of his surroundings, living instead within a shallow bureaucratic formalism of laws and paperwork. Set in March and April 2000, during elections, the novel begins with the discovery of the charred remains of a body. Chacaltana finds unusual resistance from the police to investigate the murder and as he tries, obsessively but simple mindedly, to overcome this obstacle, he ends up drawing the attention of the army. What follows is the discovery of a serial killer at large, with gruesome ritualistic murders that represent decades of unrelenting violence.

Santiago Roncagliolo, the author, received the Premio Alfaguara in 2006 for this novel. However entertaining it is, I found two minor problems with it and a bigger one. There are a few grammatical oddities (for example, on two ocassions an incorrect “de que” is present), which seem to be the editor’s fault; however, these are surprisingly few. There are many liberties taken with the judicial system and the history of violence in Peru, which seems odd given the intention of the story; these are not so easy to spot and are so integral to the narrative that can be considered part of the framing of the tale and be overlooked. The main problem, the one I couldn’t ignore, is the extravagant nature of the serial killer’s actions. They fit well within the noir conventions the story uses. However, these crimes are so brutal that they distract from the actual, real crimes that the novel wants to highlight and condemn. As a result, the framework ends up hindering the impact of what has actually happened, of what the author presumably expects us to notice and care about.

That being said, the story is quite satisfying. The ending was so well executed that one could almost forgive the problem I mentioned. I wasn’t aware of Roncagliolo’s work prior to this novel, and will for sure keep an eye on him. Thanks to Rafael Benjumea for suggesting it.

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Would truly love a response to this! I feel that Chacaltana’s character is fantastic; comparable to Saramargo’s bureaucratic fop in ‘El Doble’…very believable. However, I am perplexed, and perhaps my reading skills in castellano are wanting…but how can Chacaltana have all the furniture, mementos, photos etc from his childhood, his omnipresent mother if everything was burned in a fire…i’m confused…this was a big whole in the text for me ….someone put it together…
Puente

A shame Roncagliolo cannibalized “From Hell” by Alan Moore to write this not so good book. It is incredible that even the killer’s motivation is derivative of Mr. Moore’s work.

Georgii: Let me start with some brief remarks. In a series of three papers: a. Wacław Sierpiński, "Contribution à la théorie des séries divergentes", Comp. Rend. Soc. Sci. Varsovie 3 (1910) 89–93 (in Polish). b. Wacław Sierpiński, "Remarque sur la théorème de Riemann relatif aux séries semi-convergentes", Prac. Mat. Fiz. XXI (1910) 17–20 […]

It is not possible to provide an explicit expression for a non-linear solution. The reason is that (it is a folklore result that) an additive $f:{\mathbb R}\to{\mathbb R}$ is linear iff it is measurable. (This result can be found in a variety of places, it is a standard exercise in measure theory books. As of this writing, there is a short proof here (Intern […]

Stefan, "low" cardinalities do not change by passing from $L({\mathbb R})$ to $L({\mathbb R})[{\mathcal U}]$, so the answer to the second question is that the existence of a nonprincipal ultrafilter does not imply the existence of a Vitali set. More precisely: Assume determinacy in $L({\mathbb R})$. Then $2^\omega/E_0$ is a successor cardinal to ${ […]

Marginalia to a theorem of Silver (see also this link) by Keith I. Devlin and R. B. Jensen, 1975. A humble title and yet, undoubtedly, one of the most important papers of all time in set theory.

Given a positive integer $a$, the Ramsey number $R(a)$ is the least $n$ such that whenever the edges of the complete graph $K_n$ are colored using only two colors, we necessarily have a copy of $K_a$ with all its edges of the same color. For example, $R(3)= 6$, which is usually stated by saying that in a party of 6 people, necessarily there are 3 that know e […]

Equality is part of the background (first-order) logic, so it is included, but there is no need to mention it. The situation is the same in many other theories. If you want to work in a language without equality, on the other hand, then this is mentioned explicitly. It is true that from extensionality (and logical axioms), one can prove that two sets are equ […]

$L$ has such a nice canonical structure that one can use it to define a global well-ordering. That is, there is a formula $\phi(u,v)$ that (provably in $\mathsf{ZF}$) well-orders all of $L$, so that its restriction to any specific set $A$ in $L$ is a set well-ordering of $A$. The well-ordering $\varphi$ you are asking about can be obtained as the restriction […]

Gödel sentences are by construction $\Pi^0_1$ statements, that is, they have the form "for all $n$ ...", where ... is a recursive statement (think "a statement that a computer can decide"). For instance, the typical Gödel sentence for a system $T$ coming from the second incompleteness theorem says that "for all $n$ that code a proof […]

When I first saw the question, I remembered there was a proof on MO using Ramsey theory, but couldn't remember how the argument went, so I came up with the following, that I first posted as a comment: A cute proof using Schur's theorem: Fix $a$ in your semigroup $S$, and color $n$ and $m$ with the same color whenever $a^n=a^m$. By Schur's theo […]

It depends on what you are doing. I assume by lower level you really mean high level, or general, or 2-digit class. In that case, 54 is general topology, 26 is real functions, 03 is mathematical logic and foundations. "Point-set topology" most likely refers to the stuff in 54, or to the theory of Baire functions, as in 26A21, or to descriptive set […]

Would truly love a response to this! I feel that Chacaltana’s character is fantastic; comparable to Saramargo’s bureaucratic fop in ‘El Doble’…very believable. However, I am perplexed, and perhaps my reading skills in castellano are wanting…but how can Chacaltana have all the furniture, mementos, photos etc from his childhood, his omnipresent mother if everything was burned in a fire…i’m confused…this was a big whole in the text for me ….someone put it together…

Puente

A shame Roncagliolo cannibalized “From Hell” by Alan Moore to write this not so good book. It is incredible that even the killer’s motivation is derivative of Mr. Moore’s work.