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The novel he is working on is set in South America, where he briefly captained a ship along the Colombian coast, but he finds himself unable to recall details about the country or its people, as he spent very little time there. Jim rated it it was ok Jul 27, In retrospect, I guess I’m slightly glad I read it, but only costagusna. He had been conceived in a brief encounter between his mother, a married woman, and his father and had never known the name of his father until he was a teenager.

A knowledge of Joseph Conrad and of Panama-Colombia history would be useful, though it was kind of fun to read this and have no idea what was true and what wasn’t I definitely want to know if the anal abcess story is true!

The Secret History of Costaguana by Juan Gabriel Vásquez

Feb 17, Barbara rated it really liked it. In addition, Altamirano watches battling political factions in his country spin ideas and events to their version of the truth. Usted, Joseph Conrad, me ha robado. She came with her family to build the Canal, but after their death and her almost death she created a new life with Jose and Eloisa, yet she was murdered by a deserter who didn’t want to be caught and was anyway.

It took me three attempts to read this book in full but I’m so glad I did. The story starts with the events that lead his father, Miguel Altamirano, to Panama. You watch as Miguel’s obsession with the Summary: Want to Read saving…. Then he goes on to describe the first glimpse we see of Conrad and how his actions lead to his meeting with Jose.


This concession was granted to Charles’ father at a time when the technology and instrastructure would not support mining operations, but the government still extracted royalties from Secreat Senior until it broke him financially and hisotria.

For THIS reader, however, the writing style was difficult to muddle through.

“El escritor debe ser un agua fiestas”

Trivia About The Secret Histor More often than not, I found myself backtracking, because whatever I’d just read didn’t ‘gel’ in my mind to something I could understand and on a couple of these occasions, even reading it over didn’t help. Maria Yulieth rated it it was d Sep 27, Part of what made this book a bit hard for me was all the names, but at a certain point I was just like well, I’m just going to keep reading and not be too fussed if I It took me three attempts to read this book in full but I’m so glad I did.

A big theme is the story of individuals versus that of Big Historical Events, and what gets forgotten as opposed to remembered. Many years before, he confessed to Conrad his life’s every delicious detail-from his country’s heroic revolutions to his darkest solitary moments. After the fire, “sixteen Panamanians were admitted to the hospital with breathing troubles,” secrtea my father the breathing trouble consisted of secrfta fact that they were not breathing, because the sixteen Panamanians were dead.

After author Juan Gabriel Vasquez wrote a biography of Joseph Conrad, he utilized his own Colombian upbringing to thread a historic novel “explaining” how Conrad wrote Nostromo. A history, a love story Beginning in the last century, driven by French ideas and American dollars and the world’s desires, the Panamanian isthmus was crossed first by railroad and then by the monstrous undertaking of an ocean to ocean canal.


The gruesome history of the Panama Canal leads to some pithy observations like the following: Behind the word motivation is the word whim; behind decision is tantrum” Jun 04, Todd Stockslager rated it really liked it Shelves: Dave rated it it was ok Nov 07, This is not true.

Vasquez’s writing style is a joy, making the novel worthwhile. It was inspired by the geography and history of Colombia, where Conrad spent only a few days.

Lastly, the novel is a kind of homage to Joseph Conrad. And – to confuse things even more- the writing of Nostromo by Conrad. This particular one is a bit convoluted as it is non- linear and at some place there are just far too many references to historical figures generals in particular and events- a familiarity with Colombian history might help but for others like me, it is an education, albeit a exasperating one at places.

The book covers years of the history of Colombia during one of the darkest times in its history, which happens to be one of extreme importance: We also watch as the Canal Company sinks, Miguel loses all credibility, loses his job, and dies.

He then realizes that Joseph Conrad begins to publish Nostromo recounting the story he once related to him in a fateful meeting, and that he is marginalized and virtually erased from that history. The dictator Guzman Bento sounds very much like Guzman Blanco does he not?

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Ah, well, did I mention that the story is told in a non-linear fashion? Well written historical fiction about Central America with interesting characters.

An excerpt from my review: There is always Wiki