Author(s): Carlos Franz
Recipient of the 2005 Premio Internacional de Novela del Diario La Nación-Sudamericana, The Absent Sea is the English-language debut of an important Chilean novelist, and a work that hovers between real history and timeless mythology. Just before the coup d¿etat that overturned Chile¿s govenrment under Allende, a young, idealistic judge named Laura is posted to a provincial center in the vast northern desert. After the coup, the town is occupied by the military, which establishes a concentration camp for dissidents. Immediately, the conflict between the judge and the commandant, Major Cáceres, results in her lengthy exile to Germany. Twenty years later, she returns to Chile to confront the enormity of her past actions, as well as to answer the scathing question flung at her by her daughter: "Where were you, Mamá, when all those horrible things were happening in your city?" Laura¿s reply to her daughter takes the form of a long, dramatic letter about the dramatic events of twenty years before. In alternating chapters, meanwhile, Laura¿s return coincides with an indigenous religious festival. At the end of three days, the Chilean city and all its inhabitants will be forever changed.