The Republic of Dreams

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Marking the debut in English of one of Latin America’s outstanding writers, this large novel engages its reader in four generations of a family torn between its Spanish past and its Brazilian present. Interwoven in this vast familial, sociological, psychological, and political panorama is Pinon’s concern over the power of storytelling and the nature of dreaming.

As the story opens, the family matriarch Eulalia has decided to die. She is tired--of her marriage to iron-willed Madruga, of broken dreams, of life--and her determined escape from exhaustion and angst serves as the catalyst for the various revelations herein. Fifty years ago, when she arrived in Brazil from Spain, a young bride with her young but already formidable husband, they brought with them their passion for fashioning memories into tales--tales told as strength and protection against the inexorably fatal flow of time. Now, as Eulalia and her era near their end, that tradition of storytelling bursts upon these pages as family lore, recrimination, and recollected dreams as the family, gathered around her, relives the past and vies for the future.

After meeting Madruga, a truly memorable character, one is not surprised to discover that this founder of the family in Brazil is the central figure not only in his own stories but also in almost everyone else’s. His love and authority are both despotic, and the lives of his five children, and to a certain extent his grandchildren, are shaped by his dreams, just as an industrial Brazil has been. A successful industrialist, below his facade Madruga is a savage, “ready to wield sharp-honed weapons against those who trespass upon his honor or his interests.”