The story itself is straightforward, but Chavarria approaches it elliptically, and the constant diversions, detours and asides may try the patience of readers who are used to the more straightforward style of English language fiction. Chavarria’s story jumps around in time, and point-of-view, something that is apparently common in Spanish language fiction. Still, the novel is never too confusing, and if one is patient all will be revealed.
The main weakness of Tango for a Torturer is Chavarria’s naïve worldview. Communism was very 20th Century, and Chavarria, a Uruguayan living in Cuba, is in the awkward position of having outlived his own ideology. The book rightly condemns state sponsored violence, and Aldo’s revenge is certainly just, but the irony of writing a novel condemning such a thing while living in
Bini, the prostitute, is a communist daydream as well. It is made very clear that she whores, not because of economic deprivation, but because she enjoys it. She’s a noble savage, poor, but committed to justice. When Aldo asks for her help in framing Triple-O, she does it for nothing, even though it means she must spend time behind bars. If this has the distinct ring of bullshit, that’s because it’s bullshit. Let’s not forget, however, that Castro has been known to jail people for publishing works abroad without official consent. Of course, if jail is so great in