Mario Bencastro

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(82 pages)

A Shot in the Cathedral

"Originally published in Mexico in 1990, Bencastro's dramatic, powerful first novel focuses on the coup d'etat in El Salvador in 1979... Bencastro interpolates news bulletins, letters, poems and Romero's homilies into the narrative to create a vivid newsreel of a country disintegrating." --Publisher's Weekly.
***** "A skillful balance between journalistic reportage and a subjective focus on the lives of ordinary people afflicted by political upheaval... (A Shot in the Cathedral) makes powerfully real for us the human dimensions of war's phlegmatic impersonality." --Kirkus Review.
***** "One of Latin America's particular and notable contributions to world literature has been the political novel. Beginning with Argentina's José Mármol in the 19th century and continuing in the 20th, Latin American narrative has depicted political turmoil in artful and often innovative ways. Such is the case with Bencastro's A Shot in the Cathedral. Combining first and third person points of view, speeches by El Salvador's slain Oscar Romero, dramatic dialogue, poems, and newspaper headlines, Bencastro looks at recent Salvadoran history in the only way an artist can: through the prism of creative stylization. Characters respond to the cruelty and repression of El Salvador's civil war with poems, painting ... and this novel. Rascón's translation brings competently into English the beauty, power, and sadness of narrative Spanish... Bencastro's novel persuasively reports, describes, and synthesizes the hopelessness and transcendence of the brutal political struggle in El Salvador." --CHOICE. (American Library Association).
***** "A finalist in Mexico's 1989 Diana International Literary Prize, A Shot in the Cathedral is Bencastro's first novel. The protagonist's personal story is paralleled by the text of Archbishop Romero's Sunday homilies, which allow the reader to understand not only the position of the Salvadoran Church regarding the country's political situation, and the scope of the human rights violations experienced by Salvadorans, but also Romero's honesty, courage, and exemplary commitment to the plight of the Salvadoran people. Giersbach Rascón has deftly translated this technically sophisticated novel, which has multiple narrators, and ably mixes fiction with history." --MultiCultural Review.

A Shot in the Cathedral

Arte Público Press, September 1996. Translated by Susan Giersbach Rascón. Hardcover. ISBN 1-55885-164-X. Copyright © 1990 Mario Bencastro.