Book Review – Sudden Death – Alvaro Enrigue
Book: Sudden Death
Author: Alvaro Enrigue
Year of Release: 2013
Read 272-page hardcover edition in February 2017.
In this mystical novel with shades of magical realism, Enrigue portrays a 16th century tennis match between two unique and historical characters, an Italian painter and a Spanish poet. Infamous historical figures come to the gallery to watch this important and deadly tennis match. At the same time, the novel explores some important historical battles and truths that occurred in Europe and Central America in the 16th century forward, particularly as it relates to several infamous Popes and Papal political figures, as well as Aztec Emperors and how they dealt with Spanish explorers.
Enrigues uses a variety of writing styles, including speaking directly to the audience from time to time, to bring these disparate ideas and strands together.
This novel by Mexican author Enrigue had a truly unique structure and style.
There were times where this novel really demonstrated power of thought and idea. Two examples of this was when the author spoke about the back story to the two tennis players and how they met, and the homoeroticism that was present. Another example was early in the novel when the author spoke directly to the audience about how the most powerful thing about a writer writing a novel is that readers get to read and interpret. There were some thought provoking comments written by the author on these points that really provided for thinking on the part of the reader, which is everything you can ask for in a good novel.
However, the problem with this novel was that there was such an array of characters from different places in the world, different time periods, and going through different stories and plots, that it often became difficult as the reader to understand the connections and keep up with what was happening. Although there were some interesting notions being shared, at times it was a lot of work to keep everything together, and truly see how the various stories intertwined.
Although this novel had a lot of promise, it also suffered from unnecessarily complicated structure, along with a plethora of characters that didn’t always have a clear role in the grand scheme of the novel itself.
Overall: 2.5 stars out of 5 stars