Book review: Carolina De Robertis’ “Perla”

A naked man appears at Perla’s house in Buenos Aires. He doesn’t say a word to her. She allows him to stay in the home.

So begins Perla (Knopf), the new novel by Carolina De Robertis. Perla is a college student whose father was in the Argentine Navy during the Dirty War – leading to the vanishing of thousands of citizens, known as “the disappeared.” While her parents are away from the house, Perla begins to take care of the stranger and she discovers they may share a connection.

This book has won critical reviews – including a 4.33 ranking out of the highest score of “5” on the GoodReads website – but I just couldn’t get into it. When the book is told from the stranger’s viewpoint, De Robertis writes in abstract, overly descriptive passages that were hard for me to get through. Take this passage that borders on the silly:

“It is not her naked ankle that he wants to press against: it is the Who of her, the inside sound, the secret aural texture of her being. He wants to hear the chorus in the depths of her, where the past and all the unseen futures gather to sing.”

And that’s one of the shorter passages. This type of writing made a short book (236 pages) seem twice as long.

Perla has an intriguing premise about Argentina’s history, but I found it overwritten for my tastes.

More about Carolina De Robertis:

Carolina De Robertis, a Uruguayan native who now lives in California, is also the author of The Invisible Mountain.

Source: I purchased this book through


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Filed under 2012 Books, Book Reviews, Fiction

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