When I started this project I thought that there would be plenty of books available from South America. It turned out that, while that was true for Argentina, Brazil and Chile, amd also for Colombia, it was a lot more difficult to find books from Ecuador, Venezuela and Uruguay. So I was pleased when this recently published book turned up at our local library. Reading it certainly explained why the Venezuelans may have had other things on their minds than writing and publishing novels.
Adelaida Falcon is the only daughter of a single mother, also Adelaida Falcon. As the story opens, Adelaida the daughter is standing by her mother's grave in Caracas. Her mother has died of cancer at a time of increasing civil unrest and rampant inflation, when cancer drugs are hard to come by or almost non-existent. Adelaida's only other relatives are two elderly aunts who live in Ocumare de la Costa, a town described in the novel as a "sleepy backwater" and seemingly remote, although when I checked on the map it didn't seem to be too far from Caracas. But after years of unrest, roads are bad and travel is difficult.
As the riots worsen, Adelaida's apartment is taken over by a gang of women who are in league with the oppressive forces of the government. Adelaida embarks on a desperate course in order to survive the violence. Chapters of the book alternate between the past and the present, revealing Adelaida's life from her childhood, her upbringing by her well educated mother, her job as an editor and the unravelling of civil life in Venezuela.
I found the book entirely absorbing and Adelaida's actions in pursuit of survival very credible, even though somewhat extreme. At a little over 200 well-spaced pages, it is not a long novel. It is the author's first novel (preceded by two works of non-fiction) and I would be very happy to read more of her work in future.
Karina Sainz Borgo was born and raised in Venezuela. She has lived in Spain since immigrating there over a decade ago. "It Would be Night in Caracas" was translated by Elizabeth Bryer and translated by Harper Collins in 2019.
She tried hard to be like the others/she struggled to catch a ball/she never quite managed a cartwheel/after much practice she stood on her head./When she grew up she turned to science/she thought she would turn the world upside down/after a while she realised that the world had stayed in its proper place all along/and she was still standing on her head.