Vasquez
2014 Winner

The Sound of Things Falling

Translated from the Spanish by Anne McLean
artwork-image

ABOUT
THE BOOK

The Sound of Things Falling is a consummate literary thriller that resonates long after the final page. Through a masterly command of layered time periods, spiralling mysteries and a noir palette, it reveals how intimate lives are overshadowed by history; how the past preys on the present; and how the fate of individuals as well as countries is moulded by distant, or covert, events.

The main setting in a drizzly and overcast Andean capital, Bogotá, evokes a darkly atmospheric Colombian landscape far from the sultry Caribbean coast made familiar through the fiction of Gabriel García Márquez. The narrator, Antonio Yammara, is a law lecturer tipped into a parallel underworld through a drive-by motorbike shooting that injures him and kills his billiard-hall acquaintance, the shadowy pilot Ricardo Laverde – who is just out after serving almost 20 years in jail. Through the lecturer’s compulsive investigation of the pilot’s criminal past, the novel deftly sketches the history of the drug trade in one South American country. Through vivid secondary characters, such as a sinister Chicago drop-out and US Peace Corps volunteer, it traces the tutelary, and often forgotten, role played in the incipient trade by a generation of North American adventurers in the 1960s and 70s – some of them Vietnam veterans.

Yet it is in the novel’s most intimate relationships that the human costs of this illegal trade are felt. The portrait of Yammara’s foundering marriage to the young Aura is painfully frank, rendered in language that is deliberately muted as he succumbs to post-traumatic stress. The desolate bond he forms with the pilot’s disturbed and reclusive daughter Maya, which is built on shared trauma, evokes an entire generation psychologically scarred by the terrorist bombings and targeted killings of the 1980s and early 1990s, when the drug cartels declared open war on the government.

Through superb use of metaphor, the novel evokes a world of precarious flight and desperate, last-ditch ambition, in which everything is falling; nothing is secure. Airliners drop out of the sky, marriages crash and burn, daredevil pilots make lethal miscalculations, and family men make flawed choices. Almost anything can be corrupted by the glittering promise of unimaginable wealth, and fate or fluke is the name we give to events beyond our control that lay waste to our soaring dreams. Juan Gabriel Vásquez’s tragic vision is marvellously served by Anne McLean’s supple and idiomatic translation.

About the Book

No sooner does he get to know Ricardo Laverde in a seedy billiard hall in Bogotá than Antonio Yammara realises that the ex-pilot has a secret. Antonio’s fascination with his new friend’s life grows until the day Ricardo receives a mysterious, unmarked cassette. Shortly afterwards, he is shot dead on a street corner. Yammara’s investigation into what happened leads back to the early 1960s, marijuana smuggling and a time before the cocaine trade trapped Colombia in a living nightmare.

 

ABOUT
THE AUTHOR Juan
Gabriel Vásquez

Juan Gabriel Vásquez’s previous books include the 2014 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award winner and national bestseller, The Sound of Things Falling, as well as the award-winning The Informers, The Secret History of Costaguana, and the story collection Lovers on All Saints’ Day. Vásquez’s novels have been published in twenty-eight languages worldwide. After sixteen years in France, Belgium, and Spain, he now lives in Bogotá.

Juan Gabriel Vásquez’s previous books include the 2014 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award winner and national bestseller, The Sound of Things Falling, as well as the award-winning The Informers, The Secret History of Costaguana, and the story collection Lovers on All Saints’ Day. Vásquez’s novels have been published in twenty-eight languages worldwide. After sixteen years in France, Belgium, and Spain, he now lives in Bogotá.

ABOUT
THE TRANSLATOR Anne
McLean

Anne McLean translates Latin American and Spanish novels, short stories, memoirs, and other writings. She has twice won both the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize and the Premio Valle Inclán, and received the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award with Juan Gabriel Vásquez for his novel The Sound of Things Falling. She lives in Toronto.

Anne McLean translates Latin American and Spanish novels, short stories, memoirs, and other writings. She has twice won both the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize and the Premio Valle Inclán, and received the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award with Juan Gabriel Vásquez for his novel The Sound of Things Falling. She lives in Toronto.

NOMINATING LIBRARY COMMENTS

Vásquez was a finalist for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize in the UK with The Sound of Things Falling. His work has been translated into English, French and Polish. He won the Qwerty Prize for best book of fiction in the Spanish language and the Foundation Books and Letters Award for best book of fiction. He also received the 2011 Alfaguara Award and the Roger Caillois prize in 2012.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Date published
01/09/2013
Country
Colombia
Original Language
Spanish
Publisher
Bloomsbury Publishing
Translator
Anne McLean
Translation
Translated from the Spanish by Anne McLean

RELATED FEATURES

News March 25 2024

Discover the 2024 Dublin Literary Award Shortlist

Discover which 6 books made it to the shortlist, one of world’s most valuable literary prizes!
News January 16 2024

2024 Longlist Revealed

Novels by four Irish authors are among the 70 books nominated by 80 libraries around the world!
News November 28 2023

2024 Dublin Literary Award Judges Announced

Meet our judging panel for 2024 Dublin Literary Award
Video June 2 2023

Highlights from the 2023 Dublin Literary Award Ceremony

Katja Oskamp and translator Jo Heinrich win the prize for Marzahn, Mon Amour.

STAY CONNECTED

Stay in touch and sign up to our newsletter to receive all the latest news and updates on the Dublin Literary Award.