Диаз описывает жизнь брата и сестры, иммигрантов во втором поколении, семья из Доминиканской республики, но сами они растут в пригородах Нью-Джерзи. А заодно и прыгает то и дело назад во времени и описывает жизнь их предков в первом и втором поколениях, в Домиканской республике. Много испанских слов и фраз вставлены в текст без всякого перевода, но обычно понятны из контекста. Первые 50 страниц я очень скептично относился к этой книге, но потом завлекло, и еще как.
Вот текст сноски на одной из первых страниц (да-да, в романе есть авторские сноски, обычно рассказывающие что-то о политике Доминиканской республики в середине прошлого века или о конкретных политиках того времени), который дает представление о стиле автора; заодно из него я узнал немало для себя нового о доминиканском диктаторе Трухильо - собственно, почти все для себя новое, так как я о нем ничего по сути не знал.
For those of you who missed your mandatory two seconds of Dominican history: Trujillo, one of the twentieth century's most infamous dictators, ruled the Dominican Republic between 1930 and 1961 with an implacable ruthless brutality. A portly, sadistic, pig-eyed mulato who bleached his skin, wore platform shoes, and had a fondness for Napoleon era haberdashery, Trujillo (also known as El Jefe, the Failed Cattle Thief, and Fuckface) came to control nearly every aspect of the DR's political, cultural, social, and economic life through a potent (and familiar) mixture of violence, intimidation, massacre, rape, co-optation, and terror; treated the country like it was a plantation and he was the master. At first glance, he was just your prototypical Latin American caudillo, but his power was terminal in ways that few historians or writers have fully captured or, I would argue, imagined. He was our Sauron, our Arawn, our Darkseid, our Once and Future Dictator, a personaje so outlandish, so perverse, so dreadful that not even a sci-fi writer could have made his ass up. Famous for changing ALL THE NAMES of ALL THE LANDMARKS in the DR to honor himself (Pico Duarte became Pico Trujillo, and Santo Domingo de Guzman, the first and oldest city in the New World, became Ciudad Trujillo); for making ill monopolies out of every slice of the national patrimony (which quickly made him one of the wealthiest men in the planet); for building one of the largest militaries in the hemisphere (dude had bomber wings, for fuck's sake); for fucking every hot girl in sight, even the wives of his subordinates, thousands upon thousands upon thousands of women; for expecting, no, insisting on absolute veneration from his pueblo (tellingly, the national slogan was "Dios y Trujillo"); for running the country like it was a Marine boot camp; for stripping friends and allies of their positions and properties for no reason at all; and for his almost supernatural abilities.
Outstanding accomplishments include: the 1937 genocide against the Haitian and Haitian-Dominican community; one of the longest and most damaging US-backed dictatorships in the Western Hemisphere (and if we Latin types are skillful at anything it's tolerating US-backed dictators, so you know this was a hard-earned victory, the chilenos and argentinos are still appealing); the creation of the first modern kleptocracy (Trujillo was Mobutu before Mobutu was Mobutu); the systematic bribing of American senators; and, last but not least, the forging of the Dominican peoples into a modern state (did what his Marine trainers, during the Occupation, were unable to do).