Purgatorio is Martinezs most moving, most autobiographical novel and yet it is also a ghost story, the ghost story which has been Argentinas history since 1973. It begins, 'Simon Cardoso had been dead for thirty years when Emilia Dupuy, his wife, found him at lunchtime in the dining room of Trudy Tuesday. Simon, a cartographer like Emilia, had vanished during one of their trips to map an uncharted country road. Later testimonies had confirmed that he had been one of the thousands of victims of the military regime - arrested, tortured and executed for being a "subversive." Yet Emilia had refused to believe this account, and had spent her entire life waiting for him to reappear. Now in her sixties, the Simon she has found is identical to the man she lost three decades ago. While skirting around the mystery, Eloy Martinez masterfully peels away layer upon layer of history -both personal and political. Just as Simons disappearance comes to represent the thousands of disappearances that became such a common occurrence during the dictatorship, so Emilias refusal to accept his death mirrors the countrys unwillingness to face its reality.

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