An unforgettable yet humane novel that takes us into the heart of Colombia’s brutal society, by one of the country’s most renowned writers
I was alone when someone pounded on my door. Who could it be?
So begins Tono the Infallible, Evelio Rosero’s gripping novel about an intense relationship between a writer and a sociopath. Visited by his friend (a kind of Colombian Rasputin) seemingly at the verge of death, the writer, Eri, looks back on the arc of both of their lives. Unique in both its tone and its structure, the novel takes us from their student days (school fights, playground revelations, and an unforgettable trip to the seaside) into their adult years, involving rumors of a hippie cult and a bizarre raucous theater exhibit of history’s most violent crimes. Tono uses his charm and wealth—as well as reputed magical powers—to manipulate others, but it isn’t until the end of the book that the devastating truth is revealed—and how true is it? Reminiscent of the fiction of Roberto Bolano and the films of Alfonso Cuarón, this brilliant novel takes us into the heart of his country’s darkness, creating an unforgettable portrait of a society where humanity still endures, despite its brutality.
About the Author
Evelio Rosero was born in Bogotá, Colombia, in 1958. He was awarded Colombia’s National Literature Prize by the Ministry of Culture in 2006 for his body of work, which includes several novels, short story collections, and books for young readers and children. The Armies, Rosero’s first novel to be translated into English, won the Tusquets International Prize and the 2009 Independent Foreign Fiction Prize.
Anne McLean lives in Toronto and has translated the works of authors including Javier Cercas, Julio Cortázar, and Juan Gabriel Vásquez, and Enrique Vila-Matas.
Victor Meadowcroft is based in Brighton, England, and translates from the Spanish and Portuguese.
Rosero’s prose, translated with lyricism by McLean and Meadowcroft, conveys the characters’ horrifying human nature with aplomb.
— Publishers Weekly
Rosero affirms unashamedly that literature can and should change social reality.
— Antonio Ungar - BOMB
The Armies is a disturbing allegory of life during wartime, in which little appears to happen while at the same time entire lives and worlds collapse.
— The Times (London)
Evelio Rosero is one of the most important and innovative Colombian writers working today. His voice is essential, in terms of using fiction to make sense and shed light on Colombia's violent past and present. Tono the Infallible is a valuable contribution to Rosero's oeuvre: the novel takes us on one darkly picaresque adventure after another, with the disturbingly twisted titular character. Like Patrick Bateman and Amy Dunne, Tono easily joins the ranks of memorable literary villains. With this novel Rosero has proven himself as an author decidedly unafraid to ask difficult questions about the nature and origin of evil and cruelty. This is a brave, uncompromising, and unforgettable work.
— Julianne Pachico
The atrocity exhibition that Rosero has set up for his readers in Tono the Infallible, a book that teems with casual assassination and generational incest, deftly suggests that the slipperiest sin might be humanity’s ability to excuse itself from the worst of its tribe.
— Roberto Ontiveros - Texas Observer
Outrageous, vile, and wild...the book is simply compelling. Rosero’s prose—as translated by Victor Meadowcroft and Anne McLean—is mesmerizing.
— Lincoln Michel - Countercraft
Inexplicable violence follows Toño, or perhaps he chases violence around, every bit of gore intensified by Rosero’s vivid prose.
— Federico Perelmuter - Southwest Review
Through his dreamlike prose, the author creates a bona fide foil in Eri, who illuminates Toño’s psychopathy. Rosero does, however, leave it to the reader to discern if Toño did, in fact, commit the heinous crimes, or if the tale of Toño is legend and just the vessel Rosero uses to express his feelings about Colombia’s government.
— Wayne Catan - World Literature Today