Books Of The Year #6: School For Patriots

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December 13, 2012 by markstani

School For Patriots by Martin Kohan, pub. Serpent’s Tail

There’s been some great Argentinian fiction in recent years, not least ‘Kamchatka’ by Marcelo Figueras and one of my favourites from 2011, ‘Open Door’ by Iosi Havilio. This is right up there with them: a thoroughly gripping yet admirably restrained novel presenting a different take on the turmoil of the time.

It says: June 1982. Argentina is at war over the Falklands. Maria Teresa Cornejo is an assistant at the prestigious National School of Buenos Aires. Though timid and innocent, she wants to perform well at her job and win the approval of her supervisor, Senor Biasutto.. Maria Teresa’s desire to please Biasutto becomes a quest to uncover boys misbehaving, taking her to the cloakrooms, where her spying gives her unexpected pleasure.

I say: ‘School For Patriots’ is an extremely clever novel which resists the temptation to delve directly into the nation’s tortured recent history, content to convey its turmoil through a subtle, under-stated build-up of tension and paranoia… That’s its genius: the true horror is all the more tangible precisely because it is left to lurk. Full review here


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