Argentina’s Top Five Books
Santa Evita– A magnetic read that revolves around Eva Peron’s afterlife and the Latin American propensity for turning ordinary humans into icons. Santa Evita is a brilliant postmodern tale that focuses on the corpse of the legendary leader and the controversy over what to do with her body after her death. To protect her body, a Spanish embalmer made several copies, but which one is the real one? Follow the trail and gain a wonderful insight into how an ordinary woman managed to control the imagination of a nation, and the human impulse to create myths and stories after death.
On Heroes and Tombs – This Ernesto Sabato novel is set in 1950s Argentina during a time of great political upheaval in the Peron era. A tragic story echoing that of Romeo and Juliet, the story focuses on Alejandra, a beautiful young woman, who deals with three men in her life – the young Martin Castillo who she is drawn to because of their mutual suffering, her father and his brother Bruno. In an uncertain world that is changing rapidly, this emotional journey examines the difficulty of change and progression in a country where some are still desperately clinging on to traditional colonial values.
El Aleph – Jorge Luis Borges is Argentina’s most famous author and reading his collection of short stories is somewhat akin to falling down Alice’s Rabbit hole. Borges weaves exquisite poetry into this intellectual masterpiece as he seeks to capture the essence of Time and the Universe, slipping in and out of the realm of the fantastic. John Updike ascertains that ‘he has lifted fiction away from the flat earth where most of our novels and short stories still take place’. But be warned, once lost in one of Borges’s labyrinths, it is often difficult to escape.
Polo – Looking to watch some world class Polo while in Argentina, but a little hazy on the rules? Jilly Cooper’s blockbuster of a novel is an excellent start to understanding the game and its dynamic players. Certainly not the intellectual option, but Polo is lots of fun and will have you frantically turning pages long after the light should have gone out.
In Patagonia – An account of Bruce Chatwin’s six month journey through Patagonia, this book redefined the concept of travel writing to the world. From the most Southern point of South America to far across the unspoiled mountain highlands, the beauty of this vast country is conveyed throughout this amusing and entertaining book. Combined with various humorous anecdotes, this is a must read for those who want to appreciate the reality that lies underneath the skin of this incredible country.