A Year in Reading: Pablo De Santis


Pablo De Santis was born in Buenos Aires, studied Literature at the Universidad de Buenos Aires and subsequently worked as a journalist and comic-strip creator, becoming Editor-in-Chief of one of Argentina’s leading comics magazines, Fierro. De Santis is the author of the novel The Paris Enigma. He lives in Buenos Aires.The Intuitionist by Colson Whitehead. This is just such an incredibly original novel. It’s bordering on a detective story and fantasy; it’s set in the 1970s and tells the story of the first black woman elevator inspector. From the narrative’s fantasy perspective, the novel’s elevator inspectors are divided into two groups: the pragmatic inspectors that strictly adhere to the study of an elevator’s mechanics and engineering, and the intuitionists, who rely on their sixth sense to diagnose the health and safety of each elevator. The novel’s protagonist is faced with the breakdown and fall of one of the elevators she had previously inspected and approved as safe. The elevator’s failure drives her to question her intuitionist methods. I read an interview where Colson Whitehead, who is still quite young, said that he started to write because he loved old Stephen King novels, which I could identify completely with.Literati by Barry McCrea. This is a fantastic novel set in Trinity College in Dublin, where a student discovers the sortes method: a guessing game that uses a randomly chosen page from any book as the oracle for any given situation. The game quickly becomes an obsession for those in the novel. It reminds me of another equally engrossing novel: The Course of the Heart by M. John Harrison.Beltenebros by Antonio Muñoz Molina This is one of this Spanish author’s best novels. The primary narrator travels to a city to kill a man, and as he makes his way toward his victim, he begins to recall his own past and the choices he’s made with such force, that we as readers experience his destructive mission from multiple perspectives. Other novels to read by Muñoz Molina are Winter In Lisbon and Full Moon.Three Musketeers by Marcelo Birmajer and The Book of Murder by Guillermo Martinez. These two excellent novels by Argentine authors have been published in English this year.Three Musketeers by Marcelo Birmajer narrates a detective story where the key to the novel’s mystery lies in Argentina’s violent past. Set in the 1970s, and centered around Buenos Aires’ Jewish population, many of whom formed guerilla organizations, the novel’s caustic yet melancholic humor makes this novel a superb read. Javier Mossed, the novel’s journalist narrator guides us through the novel.The Book of Murder by Guillermo Martinez is the story of a delayed act of revenge. It’s a great read with a philosophical edge. The author (who is also a mathematician) also wrote The Oxford Murders, which was made into a feature film by Spanish director Alex de la Iglesia.More from A Year in Reading 2008