September 16th 1897. 10 AM. Around the Alameda, in Mexico City, a stirred up crowd awaits the start of the Independence Day parade. Everyone cries out with devotion when President Porfirio Díaz’s retinue comes into sight. Everyone but one man, Arnulfo Arroyo, who makes his way through the crowd. His goal is to reach the retinue, avoid the bodyguards and kill the dictator. In reality, still hung-over from the previous drunken night, he only manages to throw himself on the tyrant and hit him before he is detained. The questions will not be easy to answer: We know the person directly responsible for the failed attempt, but who are the masterminds behind him? We know that the would-be assassin rests behind bars, but who is deciding his ominous destiny? Uribes’ alter ego in the novel, diplomat and writer F. G., notices with alarm that the would-be assassin is an old student friend. He feels torn between curiosity and fear for his career. Avoiding risks, he begins to put together dossiers, containing love letters, court protocols, diary entries and newspaper columns. Simple policemen have their words echoed, as do high-level functionaries, the mother of the would-be assassin and his killer.
The artfully constructed and many-voiced dossier fills in the gaps of the historical narrative with fantasy and sensitivity, and brings the characters involved powerfully to life. Uribe’s novel is full of insight into the history of his country, and into the depths of the human soul, which he portrays at times sarcastically and at times with subtlety, but always in a balance between historical construction, artistic freedom and ironic relativisation.
Awarded the 1st Elena-Poniatowska-Prize of Novel in Mexico
Álvaro Uribe was born in Mexico City in 1953. In 1977 he received a degree in Philosophy from the UNAM. He was a cultural attaché in Nicaragua and a cultural adviser of his country in France. During his time in Paris, he edited the bilingual magazine Altaforte. He then coordinated several collections in the National Council for Culture and Arts, and in 1999, he became part of the National System of Creators of Art. He is the author of eight works, including novels, short stories and essays. His work has received much praise from readers and critics alike. Part of it has already been translated into French, English, and German. El taller del tiempo (The Workshop of Time), published by Tusquets Editores Mexico in 2003, received the I Prize for Narrative Antonin Artaud 2004.