El Paraíso en la otra esquina
Farrar Straus and Giroux
, 2003 - Fiction
- 373 pages
The dramatic lives of two bold, independent adventurers--Paul Gaugin and his grandmother Flora Tristan, a trail-blazing women's suffragist--as imagined by "one of the master storytellers of our time" (Chicago Tribune Book World)
In 1844, Flora Tristán embarked on a tour of France to campaign for workers' and women's rights. In 1891, her grandson Paul Gauguin set sail for Tahiti, determined to escape civilization and paint primitive masterpieces. Flora died before her grandson was born, but their travels and obsessions unfold side by side in this deft, utterly absorbing novel.
Flora, the illegitimate child of a wealthy Peruvian father and French mother, grows up in poverty, and after fleeing a brutal husband, journeys to Peru to demand her inheritance. On her return, she makes her name as a popular writer and a champion of the downtrodden, setting herself the arduous task of touring the French countryside to recruit members for her Workers' Union. Paul, struggling painter and stubborn visionary, abandons his wife and five children for life in the South Seas, where his dreams of paradise are poisoned by syphilis, the stifling forces of French colonialism, and a chronic lack of funds, though he has his pick of teenage Tahitian lovers and paints some of his greatest works.
Affectionate, astute, and quietly caustic, this double portrait is a rare study in passion and ambition, as well as the obstinate pursuit of greatness in the face of illness and death, from Mario Vargas Llosa, whose previous novels, The Feast of the Goat, "pushed the boundaries of the traditional historic novel [in] a book of harrowing power and lasting resonance" (The New York Times).