This book, written by the Argentine Claudia Piñero was recommended to my by a friend in Belgium.
It is the story of life in a “country”, also known as a gated community. Countries are very popular here. In the nineties they were mainly in the north of the city, but today, when you drive south, you see one new country next to the other arise. They are so many of them that I wonder who buys them.
The story takes place in the nineties. When 1 dollar was 1 peso and the sky was the limit. Until the big crash in 2001. The book begins with 3 dead bodies in a pool. Only at the end of the book you know what exactly has happened. It is about keeping up appearances. Reminds me of the famous Mrs Boucquet (Bucket) and her candle light dinners. They would rather move abroad then go down on the social ladder. Keep on living and spending in the same way even after they loose their job, so no one would notice a difference.
In fact it is a universal story. This is the way of life in many communities all over the world where the importance of money takes over daily life. Only here it is really striking because of the crisis where everyone seems to loose his job. Even that does not seem to unite them in their misery.
I enjoyed reading it. It is painful as well as funny. Every chapter is written from the point of view of another member of the community.
The book has won the Premio Clarín de novela in 2005. The script has been adapted to the screen, but I am no big fan of the movie. It does not show the underlying social relations which make the book so interesting to me.
It is translated in Dutch, so I am sure it also exists in English, in case you can’t read the original version.