Monday 7 November 2022

Book Review: Good Offices by Evelio Rosero, tranls by Anna Maclean and Anna Milsom

Good Offices Good Offices by Evelio Rosero
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
A marvelous novella for reading around Halloween. Billed as a satire on the Catholic Church I was a little concerned before picking it up as I am not a great reader of the comical, quite often don't get written humour of any form, but this is one that left me desperately wanting #Guillermo del Toro to get hold of the movie rights. . Its gothic, its surreal, its horror, its Bacchanalian, it reminded me of Victor Hugo, of Robert Burns.

It simmers towards its climax on the night Father Almida and his right hand man the sacristan are off visiting his church's benefactor vainly trying to keep their income flowing, leaving the acolyte Tancredo (the Hunchback), Sabrina the sacristan's niece (Esmerelda) and the church's cooks, the three Lilias (the Three Witches) to host the last minute, last option locum priest Father Matamoros (Auld Nick) who has come to stand in for Father Almida at Mass. To their amazement this disheveled, drunken substitute sings the mass with the voice of an angel and transforms the parishioners. Who can blame them for not wanting Almida to return!

Beautifully translated by Anne Maclean (in this case along with Anna Milsom - the two of them have also translated his Feast of the Innocents) Maclean has also translated the other works by him ( The Armies and Stranger to the Moon and most recently Tono the Infallible) which have so far appeared in English. It would be great to get this translated work available as audio recording.

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