As Colombia's most famous political cartoonist strolls through downtown Bogotá in the hours before a public celebration of his career, he contemplates how forty years before he gave up painting and began drawing caricatures to earn a living. For years his cartoons have had the power to overturn a judge's decision, threaten the stability of a ministry or repeal a law, with the result that half the country loved him and the other half wished him dead. But as he leaves the theatre a young woman emerges from the crowd and forces Mallarino to confront an incident that took place in his home half a lifetime ago, calling into question his reputation and the value of his life's work.
Juan Gabriel Vásquez was born in Bogotá in 1973. He studied Latin America literature at the Sorbonne, and has translated works by E. M. Forster and Victor Hugo, amongst others, into Spanish. His previous books have won the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, the