In Bogotá, a taut, moving novel set in present-day Colombia, Wilfredo decides to uproot his family from their small town, where his ferry service on the river subjects him to the gruesome errands demanded by the local paramilitary. Moving in with relatives in a slum in Bogotá, the family tries desperately to achieve the smallest measure of comfort and hope in a world of almost total ruin, wracked by deprivation, fear, and ceaseless violence.
Alan Grostephan depicts with startling immediacy an urban landscape of extreme harshness and oppressive instability. The tension between the desperate conditions surrounding his characters and their efforts to hold on to their humanity gives Bogotá a ferocious energy. As Wilfredo and his family fight to stay alive and stay together, their plight emerges as equally enraging and uplifting, constituting a portrait of a society always on the verge of disintegration.
“Bogatá is a miracle of a novel, with its compellingly elegant style in service of an anguished story: how to stay human in the face of the ravaging poverty and violence that is slum life in present-day Colombia. Alan Grostephan is a gifted, serious, compassionate writer, a most welcome new voice.”—Christine Schutt, author of Prosperous Friends
“It is hard to believe this fine book is a first novel. There is so much story and so much confidence here. Bogotá is simply a great big rich story which starts as a kind of thriller in a village by a river and then takes on the weight of the ages, a family wronged by time and circumstance, and each episode rows us closer to catastrophe. This is a knowing and caring novel written with a steady hand by a significant new talent.”—Ron Carlson, author of The Signal