The Feast of the Goat Hardcover – 18 Mar 2002
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Mario Vargas Llosa, a former candidate for the presidency of Peru, is better placed than most novelists to write about the machinations of Latin American politics. In The Feast of the Goat he offers a vivid recreation of the Dominican Republic during the final days of General Rafael Trujillo's insidious and evil regime. Told from several viewpoints, the book has three distinctive, alternating strands. There is Urania Cabral, the daughter of Trujillo's disgraced secretary of state, who has returned to Santo Domingo after more than 30 years. Now a successful New York lawyer, Urania has never forgiven her ageing and paralysed father, Agustín, for literally sacrificing her to the carnal despot in the hope of regaining his political post. Flipping back to May of 1961, there is a group of assassins, all equally scarred by Trujillo, waiting to gun the Generalissimo down. Finally there is an astonishing portrait of Trujillo--the Goat--and his grotesque coterie. Llosa depicts Trujillo as a villain of Shakespearean proportions. He is a preening, macho dandy who equates his own virility with the nation's health. An admirer of Hitler "not for his ideas but for the way he wore a uniform" (fittingly he equips his secret police force with a fleet of black Volkswagen Beetles), Trujillo even has his own Himler in Colonel Abbes Garcia: a vicious torturer with a predilection for the occult. Although once "the spoiled darling of the Yankees" this arch manipulator whose corruption permeates every aspect of Dominican life, is now viewed as a serious liability by Kennedy's government and several members of his own ruling elite.
As the novel edges toward Trujillo's inevitable murder, Urania's story (the novel's weakest link) gets a bit lost in the action; the remaining narratives, however, are rarely short of mesmerising. Trujillo's death unleashes a new order but not the one expected by the conspirators. Enslaved by the soul of the dead chief, neither they nor the Trujillo family--who embark on a hideous spree of bloody reprisals--are able to fill the void. Llosa has them all skilfully outmanoeuvred by the puppet-president Joaquín Belaguer, a former poet who is the very antithesis of the machismo Goat. Savage, touching and bleakly funny, this compelling book gives an all too human face to one of Latin America's most destructive tyrants. --Travis Elborough
From one of Latin America's outstanding authors, a monumental novel about - and terrible indictment of - the abuses of the Rafael Trujillo regime in the Dominican Republic. Dense in reminiscence and multi-layered in perspective, the feast of eloquent writing tumbles out and eventually unites parallel stories of a particular family involved in Trujillo's fate; the aging dictator himself bound up by physical frailty yet still capable of unacknowledged inhumanity, and those patriots plotting his assassination. The intense descriptive and Byzantine machinations make for an intellectually demanding yet richly rewarding novel whose recreation of bygone excesses is ultimately applicable to all such flawed regimes.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
Unlimited power is portrayed compellingly in the Goat, a taudry charismatic, egotistical maniac ruling the Dominican Republic. His subtle art of suspicion and less subtle art of violence allow an iron grip to take hold over a small clique of insiders who in turn take an iron grip over a whole nation. It is the ultimate fable of a society infected from the top with bile and cruelty, seeping out to destroy all in its wake.
Hope is found in the plot to unseat this power, through characters completely distinct, and painted with wonderful prose into twentieth century heroes. Their hope is true, their motivations distinct, but their aim clear. The way in which this is betrayed by naivety and recklessness is a great tragedy in this novel.
Finally, the heartbreaking aspect of this book is the betrayal, the betrayal by power and of hope, centred through the largely metaphoric role of the daughter of a Senator. Her fate is realised brilliantly through the use of diverging time devices, and is at once tragic and deeply symbolic of the infection mentioned above.
I cannot commend this book enough, it could well be one of the top 10 or 20 pieces of fiction of the twentieth century.
The books starts off slowly- a brilliant middle-aged (polymath) woman, Urania Cabral, the daughter of the former Secretary Of State to the Dominican Republic visits her father who is barley alive- he cannot speak but we think he can listen and understand what she is saying. She speaks to her father for the first time in thirty years about what her father did when she was a little girl. Whilst she has been away she has, as an obsession/ hobby, studied the recent history of the Dominican Republic and in particular the regime of her fathers boss General Rafael Trujillo. The story she tells is horrific- you will have to read it to find out what happens .... believe me the denouement is extreme and comes at you like an express train. My favourite chapter is one of extreme calm, the interregnum and Joaquin Balauer scheming and taking ultimate control. Totally Machiavellian, absolutely mesmerizing
Mario Vargas Llosa is a great writer. The book is a must read because, as George Santayana said in 1905, 'Those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it!'
Overall, a superd read, I'd recommend it to all.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Very difficult and sad book but well worth it. A few tips for fellow readers; if like me you know absolutely nothing about the Dominican Republic, stick Trujillo and a few of the... Read morePublished 7 months ago by RASHID CHINCHANWALA
Llosa is a master at understating the emotion in his stories, which actually hits you harder than if it were overplayed. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Ray
Vargas Llosa writes powerfully of the dictator Trujillo (called "the Goat" by some because of his high pitched "bleating" voice) who dominated life in the Dominican... Read morePublished 14 months ago by Amazon Customer
This really is a captivating read. I didn't know a thing about the Trujillo era, and so this book really provided a gripping insight. Read morePublished 20 months ago by kurt
I was very much involved in reading this book page after page that I am planning a trip to the Dominican Republic
to visit the places described.