ECUADOR (*)

Poso Wells — Gabriela Aleman (2007)

What it’s about: A surreal little novel using bizarre plot lines to portray a society at the mercy of corruption and exploitation.

A journalist investigates the disappearance of dozens of women in a small town in the middle of nowhere — it doesnt appear on any map – something only their families care about until a politician is also kidnapped and the state authorities spring into action.

Meanwhile, a large foreign mining company operates behind the scenes to take advantage of the chaos and secure new concessions.

A cynical and unrestrained story from the opening scene where a politician is electrocuted by dodgy wiring while standing in a puddle of his own urine, to the final scene where the mining executive leaves town in a hurry wishing to find a lone Andean mountaintop where he can exploit mines in peace, a new set of credulous inhabitants to win over.

The definitive book from Ecuador? The most famous Ecuadorian book is Huasipongo or The Villagers by Jorge Icaza. In which an unscrupulous businessman heads out to become the landlord of an indigenous community to pay his debts, and exploits the locals. It is only available in a poor translation, and its lack of subtlety (for example, forcing a women to breastfeed his child instead of her own) makes it less impressive than some similar novels.

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