21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
The Dancer Upstairs,
By A Customer
This review is from: The Dancer Upstairs (Paperback)
Nicholas Shakespeare is tough on his characters. He makes them inhabit a world where daily they must confront the big issues of life: morality, love, betrayal and the political machinations of an unstable state. But just as dancers must often endure pain to produce movement of great beauty, Shakespeare's protagonists are made to fight emotional battles to produce a work of surprising humanity and tenderness.
Of course all this needs an environment sufficiently grand to accommodate such large themes, and Shakespeare's undeniable understanding of South America and its societies provides ample space. Across Shakespeare's lonely mountains and confused cities we follow Colonel Rejas, a policeman on the trail of Eziquiel, a terrorist leader. Eziquiel himself leads a life of incarceration, partly due to his outlaw status and partly because of his own illness, an ailment which, ironically, is confined largely to the social group Eziquiel is fighting against.
Throughout the book we watch the characters make moral choices, influenced both by the society and the environment they find themselves in. This is a place where children carry out political assassinations and in which no-one remains untouched by politics and corruption. We see most of the events through the eyes of Rejas, who himself begins to question the rights and wrongs of his own actions when confronted with evidence of violence on both sides of the political divide and realises the risk to the relationships he holds dear. The book is full of fearful encounters, but each has its own humanity and with each we achieve some sort of recognition, or empathy even.
The Dancer Upstairs has the pace of a thriller and the intrigue of a detective novel, but has a very human heart. Read this and, just like Colonel Rejas, you may find yourself examining the very roots of values and relationships you hold close.