The Armies

Evelio Rosero (Author) Anne McLean (Translator)


Ismail, the profesor, is a retired teacher in a small Colombian town where he passes the days pretending to pick oranges while spying on his neighbor Geraldina as she lies naked in the shade of a ceiba tree on a red floral quilt. The garden burns with sunlight; the macaws laugh sweetly. Otilia, Ismail's wife, is ashamed of his peeping and suggests that he pay a visit to Father Albornoz. Instead, Ismail wanders the town visiting old friends, plagued by a tangle of secret memories: Where have I existed these years? I answer myself: up on the wall, peering over. When the armies slowly arrive, the profesor's reveries are gradually taken over by a living hell. His wife disappears and he must find her. We learn that not only gentle, grassy hillsides surround San Jose but landmines and coca fields. The reader is soon engulfed by the violence of Rosero's narrative that is touched not only with a deep sadness, but an extraordinary tenderness."

Product Details

New Directions Publishing Corporation
Publish Date
September 15, 2009
5.26 X 0.63 X 7.96 inches | 0.54 pounds
BISAC Categories:

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About the Author

Evelio Rosero, born in Bogotá, Colombia in 1958, is the author of several books of fiction--novels and short stories--plays, and poetry. For his body of work he was awarded Colombia's National Literature Prize by the Ministry of Culture. The Armies won the prestigious Tusquets International Prize and has been longlisted for The Independent Foreign Fiction Prize.
Anne McLean has won the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize twice, as well as the Premio Valle Incla´n. She has translated the works of Javier Cercas, Julio Cortázar, Carmen Martín Gaite, Ignacio Padilla, and Evelio Rosero.


A disturbing allegory of life during wartime, in which little appears to happen while at the same time entire lives and worlds collapse. This is an important and powerful book.
Evelio Rosero has dipped his pen in blood and written an epic in 215 pages. If anyone has wondered if there is life in the Colombian novel after magical realism, this is the evidence of the extraordinary power of that country's literature.--Linda Grant
A brutal but beautiful novel about life in Colombia ... has won the Independent foreign fiction prize [UK].--Alison Flood
A scathing indictment of the current political situation in Colombia.--Roberta Gordenstein
It is an extraordinary, devastating book, spare and gripping, by turns painful and cruel.... Rosero is unflinching.--Ben Ehrenreich
The best literary rendering of the Colombian conflict to reach American readers since Márquez...Nightmarish, surreal, yet true to life.--Megan Doll
The Armies is written in a compressed, lean style, which addresses the difficulty of the material with uncompromising clarity. It is a fragile tone, but Anne McLean's translation does full justice to it.