EAT THE CLOTHES! and Valentín Trujillo Amongst the BOGOTÁ39 Selection
Peruvian Coast, 1823. In the middle of the war of independence, a troop of shipwrecked patriots must face survival in hostile conditions, on the brink of hunger and delirium. Among them is colonel Carlos Federico de Brandsen, an outstanding French cavalry officer who after the defeat of Waterloo accepts to travel to the New World to fight for the independence of the young American republics. He crosses the Andes and fights in Chile and then in Peru.
Defeats and failures however eat into the spirit of loyalty to the cause, with the group facing marches through the Andes, ghost towns and tortuous roads, inclement snowfalls, gorges and an enemy army stalking them. The harsh experiences turn hallucinatory, fate leaves many on the verge of death, hunger alters the soldiers’ senses (they eat their own
clothes) and survival is not always based on moral precepts. Brandsen’s health also deteriorates, he has visions and confuses the wars in which he has fought, so beginning his descent into madness. Drawing on a real, historical episode Comanse la ropa! belongs to the venerable Latin American tradition of magic realism with its focus on the meaning of loyalty -represented by men walking to their death unfazed by the extreme forces of nature- as well as more overtly political aspects – a high class always aware of who holds power; the indigenous population, deeply Catholic and fighting almost always in favour of the Spanish. Alongside the human protagonist, the all-pervading character of the novel is landscape: the exalted nature of the Andes, the great marches through the desert, the mountain range, the moors, the small towns lost among the mountains and the lakes.
WINNER of the JUAN CARLOS ONETTI LITERARY AWARD/2016 FICTION
SELECTED AMONGST THE BOGOTÁ 39 GROUP OF BEST LATIN AMERICAN AUTHORS UNDER 40
231pages – Original language: Spanish (Intendencia de Montevideo, 2017)
Valentín Trujillo (Maldonado, 1979) is a professor of Language and Literature. In 2007 his book of
short stories Jaula de costillas (Cage of Ribs), published by Ediciones de la Banda Oriental, won the
National Prize for Fiction Juan José Morosoli. In 2016 he was awarded the Onetti Prize for fiction for
this novel. In 2018 he was named one of the best 39 Latin-American writers under 40 within the
project Bogotá39 by the Hay Festival.
ON BEHALF OF OMAIRA RODRÍGUEZ, BOOKS FROM URUGUAY