February 2004 C. Jason Molina fiction The Feast of the Goat by Mario Vargas-Llosa. The "dictator novel" is a familiar terrain for Latin American fiction; I the Supreme, by Augusto Antonio Roa Bastos, The President by Miguel Angel Asturias and Gabriel Garcia-Marquez's Autumn of the Patriarch all fictionally turn critical eyes and expose the vast wake left by Latin American tyrants.
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Haunted all her life by feelings of terror and emptiness, forty-nine-year-old Urania Cabral returns to her native Dominican Republic - and finds herself reliving the events of l961, when the capital was still called Trujillo City and one old man terrorized a nation of three million. Rafael Trujillo, the depraved ailing dictator whom Dominicans call the Goat, controls his inner circle with a combination of violence and blackmail. In Trujillo's gaudy palace, treachery and cowardice have become a way of life. But Trujillo's grasp is slipping. There is a conspiracy against him, and a Machiavellian revolution already underway that will have bloody consequences of its own. In this 'masterpiece of Latin American and world literature, and one of the finest political novels ever written' (Bookforum), Mario Vargas Llosa recounts the end of a regime and the birth of a terrible democracy, giving voice to the historical Trujillo and the victims, both innocent and complicit, drawn into his deadly orbit.
The Feast of the Goat, then, reads like a morality play directed to the Peruvian people and pushed into print to meet a deadline imposed by the country's election calendar.