||German author Jenny Erpenbeck's oblique modernist novel is narrated by a woman thinking back to her childhood in an unidentified South American country in the grips of a totalitarian government seeking to quash all opposition. The country's name is not the only missing information in the novel--the pages are filled with odd elisions: who are the girl's parents, was that a gunshot or a flat tire, where did the people go and who took them? Can words and memory properly fill these yawning gaps? Using repetitive, incantatory prose, the narrator probes backwards, seeking identity and truth, both of which flood through at the novel's devastating climax.
||In The Book of Words, Jenny Erpenbeck captures the inner life of a young girl, who is surviving in the brutal, totalitarian regime of a curiously unnamed South American country (most likely Argentina during its "dirty war"). Raised by parents whose real identity ends up shocking her, the girl comes of age in a country where gunshots are mistaken for blown tires, innocent citizens are dragged off buses, and friends and family, tortured and disappeared, return to visit her from the dead.