x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Good Offices: A window on the quiet despair of the human condition

Evelio Roser evokes the emotional hunger of his Colombian characters through deft twists in plot and appropriately placed allegories.

Though a slim volume at 140 pages, Evelio Rosero's Good Offices provides layers of intrigue in his simple, yet far from plain, prose. Perhaps affected by his upbringing in the Colombian cities of Pasto and Bogota, Rosero's stories are often studies on human nature, his observations tinged with quiet despair.

Good Offices provides one such example in the form of the hunchbacked Tancredo, weighed down by his duties at the parish where he is employed, as well as by his desire for the lovely but capricious Sabina.

The unlikely pair are joined by three widows, dubbed the "Lilias", in their resigned devotion to their employer, Father Almida. Their catalyst for awakening arrives in the form of a wayward priest, Father Matamoros, whose angelic voice sets off their spiritual unravelling.

Rosero's main strength lies in evoking the emotional hunger of his characters through deft twists in plot and appropriately placed allegories. Despite their jarring actions, they are the key ingredient in this tale and linger long after the last page has been turned.