The Twilight Zone

Graywolf. Mar. 2021. 192p. ISBN 9781644450475. pap. $16. F
In this gripping and rivetingly intense narrative involving Pinochet’s repressive rule in 1970s–80s Chile, Fernández (Space Invaders) uses flashbacks and imagination to weave together three interrelated, nonlinear threads through which flow present, past, and future. The main story line focuses on the real-life Andrés Valenzuela Morales, who, 10 years into the dictatorship, confessed to a journalist his role in torturing victims of the regime, his subsequent clandestine existence to avoid retaliation, and his eventual escape to France. A second stream is the series of scenarios showing a handful of documented cases of kidnappings, interrogations, tortures, executions, and eventual disappearances in Chile and the futile quest for justice from victims’ families. The final thread revolves around the narrator/writer as she—and Chile—confront the past. More than pure fabrication, this documentary novel fictionalizes people and events by using testimony and literary license to convey the story. The twilight zone of the title metamorphizes the dark side of these events, which would seem fantastical if they weren’t so painfully real.
VERDICT Fernández, 2017 winner of the prestigious Sor Juana de la Cruz Prize, delivers an emotional punch that never loses its strength, provoking responses ranging from anger to disbelief to sadness.
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