Difficult Light

. Archipelago. Jun. 2020. 152p. from Spanish by Andrea Rosenberg. ISBN 9781939810601. pap. $16. LITERARY.
There’s hard light indeed for 78-year-old artist David, who’s recently widowed, unable to paint owing to failing eyesight, and at home in Colombia, using a magnifying glass and blackberry-sized letters to record grievous events that unfolded when he and his family lived in 1980s Manhattan. With David’s career solid if not soaring, the family had moved to a light-blessed apartment on the Lower East Side when a taxi carrying eldest son Jacobo was hit by a drunk driver, leaving Jacobo paralyzed from the waist down and in constant, insurmountable pain. Though brother Pablo had abandoned his academic dreams to help, efforts to retrain Jacobo’s body or even diminish his physical anguish are for naught, and as the novel opens, David awaits word with his wife and closest friends of Jacobo’s assisted suicide in Oregon.
VERDICT González (The Storm) unfolds the story in luminous, reverberant language all the more heart-wrenching for eschewing graphic detail; David’s painterly sensitivity is enough. Magnificent.


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