The Entre Rios Tril­o­gy: Three Novels

Rhon­da Dahl Buchanan; Per­la Suez, trans.
  • Review
By – April 2, 2012

Three short nov­els chron­i­cle the small Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ty in the remote Argen­tine province of Entre Rios at three dif­fer­ent time peri­ods in the 20th cen­tu­ry. In Lethar­gy, Deb­o­rah describes per­son­al trau­mat­ic events of her child­hood against the back­drop of a small, famil­iar world about to change for­ev­er through ris­ing intol­er­ance and polit­i­cal upheaval. The Arrest sim­i­lar­ly deals with the end of inno­cence as a bright farm boy, with dreams of becom­ing a doc­tor, trav­els to the big city, only to be jailed and tor­tured as part of La Sem­ana Trag­i­ca, the Trag­ic Week” in Jan­u­ary, 1919, when many inno­cent peo­ple were relent­less­ly beat­en by gov­ern­ment forces under the guise of quelling strik­ing work­ers. Through two fam­i­lies, Com­plot traces (the evils of) mod­ern­iza­tion: greed, lust, mur­der and pow­er. Again, the small, per­son­al tragedies are a mir­ror for the exter­nal corruption. 

In each of these beau­ti­ful­ly craft­ed sto­ries, the writ­ing is inti­mate, lyri­cal, vivid­ly descrip­tive, and so soft­ly under­stat­ed that the read­er only lat­er real­izes how much was learned. Entre Rios is a lit­tle gem that deals with the uni­ver­sal human condition.

Sydelle Shamah has been lead­ing book club dis­cus­sions for many years, and is a pub­lished sci­ence fic­tion writer. She was pres­i­dent of the Ruth Hyman Jew­ish Com­mu­ni­ty Cen­ter of Mon­mouth Coun­ty, NJ.

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