Queridos niños

Dear Children | Anagrama, 2021

Moving between comedy and naturalism in the heart of a political campaign, inadmissible ambitions, deception, half-truths, outright lies, buried tensions, and conflicts in private life best left unsaid all rise to the surface.

This is a novel like an after-dinner chat with friends, but hard like a punch to the liver. And this contradiction is present in the protagonist, Basilio, whose friends call him Hippopotamus. At two-hundred-sixty pounds, he finds this nickname amusing: maybe he does aspire to this quiet calm of that beast that knows how to wait till the time is right; maybe he’s attracted by its ferocious nature, its aggressive instincts, its criminal intelligence. So when he gets an offer to abandon his tranquil retirement for a few weeks to accompany presidential candidate Amelia Tomás on the campaign trail, the beast inside him wakes up and acts. Throughout an adventure that will take them across the country, his mission will be to pack her speeches with dynamite, sprinkle gasoline on her rivals’ positions, and set fire to everything in his path. Competition is out of the question: the only acceptable thing is to win. Win, win, win.

And in the midst of all this is a larger-than-life protagonist, loved by some and hated by others, who instead of asking himself if the glass is half-full or half-empty decides to drink the whole thing down. Outrageous and daring, vibrant and direct, this is an autobiography of rancor and another step forward for one of the most successful careers in contemporary fiction. David Trueba has written an unclassifiable novel that portrays the world of politics and its backroom dealings with an eye for satire and clear judgment.