Sunday, 17 September 2017

La libélula mecánica y el averiguad

This article is an English translation of a review of the book La libélula mecánica y el averiguador by the Guatemalan author Arturo Monterroso. The review is by Claudine Giovannoni.

A copy of the Spanish article can be found at

Ten years have passed, and Isabel and Inés have grown up: do you remember the young protagonists of the novel La Mosca Dragon?

Arturo Monterroso brings us back to Guatemala, still full of political strokes, bloody attacks where drug traffickers, soldiers and those who make little money, say how to run terror.

This time, the protagonist is something that resembles a small insect that looks a lot like Maruca and Enriqueta’s Dragonfly in Tecpán: its code name is Rx566SL-REAPER.

There are a thousand possibilities where even the most trivial situation might be the cause of a shootout; but following the intimidation that happened that night, Antonio, father of Inés and Isabel, decides to bring his wife Nina and his daughters for some time to Gertrudis, a relative of theirs.

A week after having moved to Aunt Gertrudis’ house, Antonio and his family were invited to lunch at San Lucas in the house of the engineer lquijay, and this is where the REAPER appears during a walk in the garden of the villa.

Young engineer Manuel, Inés and Isabel’s friend, will be a valuable ally in finding out how it is made and what it is, using an electronic scanning microscope.

The pungent irony of the author takes shape in the conversations of the characters where the raw Guatemaltecan reality of each day (and of many other countries) is defused. On the one hand, pretences for shooting during the festivities of a thousand different Saints, on the other hand, he can ridicule those who must support foreign technology by possessing a cell phone.
Moreover, the improvised investigator Don Ramiro, well personify sarcasm when he speaks to his young helper Amadeo. A hitman commissioned Don Ramiro to find Adelaida Prado, while Inés and Isabel are as well on Adelaida’s traces.

The young anthropologist Adelaida kept hidden by Maruca and Enriqueta in Tecpán in the novel of the La Mosca Dragon, returned after years of political asylum in Mexico, in fact, she was not a subversive but was only guilty of not having accepted the advances of Cifuentes Ortega. Nevertheless, why are they looking for her again?

Then, the characters are intertwined: from American Zachary Collum, a gringo veteran, who has to leave his dog Henry in custody to someone before leaving for the United States. The poor black dog passes from hand-to-hand to finish with those of David Garrett (not the famous violinist), manager of the Jaguar Nook Restaurant, which then leaves him to Antonio, who finds himself as animal rights activist almost by accident.

In the story does not go unnoticed the D2 intrigues, the Guatemalan FBI, and the dirty chores of General Cifuentes that eventually die and no one knows who murdered him.

However, the final remains a question, why would Rx566SL-REAPER be recovered? Moreover, who had driven it and with what purpose? Moreover, if it was Alfredo Nottembaum, Carlos Lahsen’s partner, and Luisa’s father-in-law? He had been funding the putsch in 1989… Moreover, he is portrayed in the photograph of the conservative members of the Coffee Club along with Carlos!

A novel to read by keeping the breath, written with sincerity and humour, in which true human values are reported as opposed to violence and crime.

I like Monterroso’s style of naivety, as if it were his inner child to dictate words, knowing how to describe a variety of situations while maintaining a candid, though meticulous, language until the last detail.

Even this novel is suitable as well for a young audience; I also recommend it for educational purposes as it (unfortunately) deals with situations that are always up to date… Everywhere on this planet!


Arturo Monterroso was born in Guatemala, 1948. He is a writer and journalist. He studied language and literature at the University of San Carlos and held a degree in Journalism from the Universidad Panamericana.

In 1994 he published the short story book La ira oculta, and received the Novella Prize in 1995 for Piano Dark. This year, Editorial Norma published his novel for young people, The dragonfly. He has several novels, and some of his stories and articles have been translated into German and French.

He received the Novella 1995 Award for Oscuridad del piano  and the Award Brevísimos Dinosaurios 2009 del Centro Cultural de España, for Soy feliz. La libélula mecánica y el averiguador is his latest novel for young people.

La libélula mecánica y el averiguador can be purchased at this website
Editorial Norma– Ciudad de Guatemala , agosto 2016 ISBN 978-9929-42-210-0