The Armies

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The Armies by Evelio Rosero

Translated from Spanish by Anne McLean

Published by MacLehose Press, November 2008


If you ask Colombians how Evelio Rosero’s novel fares in his own country they tell you that you will scarcely find a copy. This magisterial, beautiful, book is effectively suppressed. What is going on in that endlessly tortured country cannot go on being suppressed and ignored outside Colombia. Ismael, a retired school teacher in a small Colombian village, gathers oranges, admires beautiful women and has, in the opening pages, an idyllic everyday life. Then the village is ransacked by an obscure militia and he is thrown into the fray and his mental stability collapses. The horrors which overwhelm the inhabitants of this village has become an everyday occurrence in Colombia. Villagers are kidnapped, killed, they disappear at the hands of unidentified groups – the armies of the title: guerillas, paramilitaries, drugs traffickers. Rosero does not directly describe the reality of an unpredictable, violent world, he imitates it in the mind of a man going mad. In this story, no-one is spared, no-one is protected.


Evelio Rosero studied Social Communication in the Externado University of Colombia. In 2006 he was awarded the Tusquets National Prize for Literature in Colombia for his novel Los Ejércitos.




Anne McLean has translated the works of Javier Cercas, Julio Cortázar, Ignacio Padilla and Tomás Eloy Martínez. Her translation of Cercas’ Soldiers of Salamis won the 2004 Independent Foreign Fiction Prize and the Premio Valle Inclan.




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