Reviews for Sound of Things Falling

Booklist Reviews 2013 July #1
*Starred Review* Ricardo Laverde does the one thing he must do--"A person doesn't have to do anything but die"--cut down in the streets of Bogotá by the same drug lords he once served as a pilot. But in dying, Ricardo leaves behind a billiards-room acquaintance, Antonio Yammara, who lives with an ugly scar from a bullet fired by Ricardo's assassins and with the daunting task of deciphering the hidden meaning of Ricardo's life. Through the literary magic of one of Latin America's most talented novelists, readers share that task with Antonio, probing the violence and fear spawned by the cruelly protracted drug war in which Ricardo perishes. Insistently pressing Antonio for the story behind Ricardo's death is Maya Fitts, daughter of Ricardo and Elena Fitts, an American Peace Corps volunteer who long hides from her daughter the very existence of her criminal father and who herself dies aboard a plane taking her back to Colombia. As readers join Antonio and Maya in listening intently to the black-box recording from that plane, they will marvel at how Vásquez fuses past and present, hope and despair, in one unforgettable moment. A deft translation delivers the searing trauma and the tender intimations of a masterpiece. Copyright 2013 Booklist Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2013 June #2
An odd coincidence leads Antonio Yammara, a law professor and narrator of this novel from Latin American author Vásquez (The Informers, 2009, etc.), deep into the mystery of personality, both his own and especially that of Ricardo Laverde, a casual acquaintance of Yammara before he was gunned down on the streets of Bogotá. The catalyst for memory here is perhaps unique in the history of the novel, for Yammara begins by recounting an anecdote involving a hippopotamus that had escaped from a zoo established in Colombia's Magdalena Valley by the drug baron Pablo Escobar. After the hippo is shot, Yammara is taken back 13 years to his acquaintance with Laverde, a pilot involved in drug running. Yammara is a youngish professor of law in Bogotá, and, generally bored, he spends his nights bedding his students and playing billiards. Engaged in the latter activity, Yammara meets Laverde without knowing his background—for example, that Laverde had just been released from a 19-year prison stint for drug activity. A short time later, Yammara is with Laverde when the drug runner is murdered, and Yammara is also hit by a bullet. He is both angered and intrigued by Laverde's murder and wants to find out the mystery behind his life. His curiosity leads him circuitously to Laverde's relationship with Elena, his American wife, whose death in a plane accident Laverde was grieving over at the time of his murder. Yammara meets Maya Fritts, Laverde's daughter by Elena, who fills in some of the gaps in Yammara's knowledge, and the intimacy that arises from Yammara's growing knowledge of Laverde's family leads him and Maya to briefly become lovers. Toward the end of the novel, Yammara comments that Maya wrinkles her brow "like someone who's on the verge of understanding something," and this ambiguous borderland where things don't quite come into coherent focus is where most of the characters remain. Copyright Kirkus 2013 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Library Journal Reviews 2013 March #2

When Antonio Yammara reads that a hippo has escaped from a zoo in Bogotá once owned by notorious drug kingpin Pablo Escobar, he recalls the era when Escobar's cartel clashed violently with the Colombian government and Antonio saw a friend murdered. Vasquez, a hugely important writer in Latin America, did well here with The Informers.

[Page 92]. (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Library Journal Reviews 2013 July #1

In this latest from Vásquez (The Informers), law professor Antonio Yammara recalls befriending retired pilot and former convict Ricardo Laverde, who is later killed in a shooting in which Yammara is seriously wounded. The murder propels an extensive inquiry into Laverde's background as events gradually rewind. We discover that Laverde's estranged American wife was killed in a plane crash en route to an attempted reconciliation and that his apiarist daughter Maya engaged Yammara to explore the life of a father whom she barely knew. Only near the very end do we discover Laverde's involvement in one of drug kingpin Pablo Escobar's drug cartels. Yet Vásquez does not emphasize the drug trafficking, instead focusing on poor choices and the role of memory in the retelling of events: "reality [is] adjusted to the memory we have of it." VERDICT The compelling Vásquez strikes comparisons that hold up even in translation. Readers expecting a thrilling reenactment of the Colombian drug wars of the 1990s should look elsewhere, but those seeking a more genuine and magnificently written examination of memory's persistence will be satisfied. [See Prepub Alert, 2/25/13.]--Lawrence Olszewski, OCLC Lib., Dublin, OH

[Page 75]. (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Library Journal Reviews 2014 October #1

Drug cartels in the 1990s form the backdrop of this 2011 Alfaguara Prize winner about a law professor who probes the truth behind the drive-by murder of a retired drug-trafficking pilot, the plane crash that killed the pilot's estranged wife, and the familial recollections of their apiarist daughter.

[Page 44]. (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2011 March #3

Scocca, "Off the Record" columnist for the New York Observer, offers a timely chronicle of China's transformation through an eyewitness account of how Beijing refurbished itself for the 2008 Olympics. From 2004 to 2010, Scocca records how the measures China took to present its best face to the world, restricting public spitting, banning the sale of knives in light of a stabbing, and winning 51 gold medals in the games themselves. He excels at straddling the line between the personal and sociopolitical: he marks the birth of his son and celebrating Christmas in the capital as larger changes in consumption and national identity sweep China. These personal touches are welcome reprieves in a text often inundated with sociological detail. The dizzying descriptions of the ringed layout of Beijing or the denizens of his apartment's alleyway are often difficult to keep track of, especially when laced together with the country's athletic preparation, architectural feats, and even attempts at controlling the weather. But in destabilizing the reader, the welter of sensory data and anecdote allows sharing in the author's bewilderment as Beijing constantly reimagines and reshapes itself. (Aug.)

[Page ]. Copyright 2010 PWxyz LLC

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2013 June #2

"That story is to blame," declares a character in Colombian author Vasquez's latest novel (after The Secret History of Costaguana). Indeed, this book is an exploration of the ways in which stories profoundly impact lives. Around 1996, when murder and bloody mayhem fueled by the drug trade were commonplace in Bogotá, the young law professor Antonio Yammara befriends enigmatic stranger Ricardo Laverde. One night, assassins on motorbikes open fire on the two, killing Laverde and seriously wounding Yammara. Conflicted and at a loss to understand the damage Laverde has wrought, Yammara looks into his life story. Yammara suffers from crippling psychic and physical wounds as a result of the shooting, and his investigation takes him to Laverde's shabby Bogotá apartment, where he receives a gruesome clue from the grieving landlady. Yammara eventually finds Laverde's daughter Maya, a beekeeper who lives in the Colombian countryside. She shows Yammara photos and letters she's collected about the father she never knew. Together they lose themselves in stories of Laverde's childhood; of Maya's American mother, Elaine Fritts; and of Elaine and Laverde's love affair. Vasquez allows the story to become Elaine's, and as the puzzle of Laverde is pieced together, Yammara comes to realize just how thoroughly the stories of these other people are part of his own. Agent: Casanovas & Lynch Agencia Literaria (Spain). (Aug.)

[Page ]. Copyright 2013 PWxyz LLC