Lost City Radio, a kind of political fable / dystopia story, proceeds without names, a technique that can grow tiresome. Where is this set? The Peru of Alarcon’s background? Why keep it secret in a story where names matter so much? Norma, our protagonist, has a radio show on Sunday nights during which she reads the names of the missing, an act barely tolerated by the governing dictatorship. There is tremendous power in this act, simply saying the name. There is also tremendous power in her voice, and it reaches even the jungle, specifically village 1797, one that is very close to Norma’s heart.
This is a devastatingly heartbreaking book, often carried on the shoulders of young Victor, a remarkable young man who is trying to find his own connections to the city and to the living. Alarcon intertwines lives in the jungle and lives in the city, often combining the narratives without benefit of white space in order to bring together memory and the present, and he does so masterfully. The connections are inserted delicately but they have tremendous repercussions.
An important and powerful book.