Purgatorio is Martínez's most moving, most autobiographical novel and yet it is also a ghost story, the ghost story which has been Argentina's history since 1973. It begins, ‘Simón Cardoso had been dead for thirty years when Emilia Dupuy, his wife, found him at lunchtime in the dining room of Trudy Tuesday.' Simón, a cartographer like Emilia, had vanished during one of their trips to map an uncharted country road. Later testimonies had confirmed that he had been one of the thousands of victims of the military regime - arrested, tortured and executed for being a "subversive." Yet Emilia had refused to believe this account, and had spent her entire life waiting for him to reappear. Now in her sixties, the Simón she has found is identical to the man she lost three decades ago. While skirting around the mystery, Eloy Martínez masterfully peels away layer upon layer of history -both personal and political. Just as Simón's disappearance comes to represent the thousands of disappearances that became such a common occurrence during the dictatorship, so Emilia's refusal to accept his death mirror's the country's unwillingness to face its reality.
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