the War of Don Emmanuel’s Nether Parts by Louis de Bernières (1990)
A fictitious country in South-America is ravaged by war. All kinds of war. It has gotten so far that no one remembers who they are fighting against. The people have to take care of themselves as the government is not to be trusted.
The book has countless of characters, but mainly focuses on the people in a small village somewhere in the interior. The military comes now and then to sleep with the whores and occasionally kills a few of the inhabitants in drunken stupor. And then they may face being captured by one of the guerillas in the area. Or join them if they are fed up with the military.
Louis de Bernières has created an amazing country with excellent portraits of the characters. In the beginning it was hard to figure out who is who, but then as the characters are killed off, it gets easier. There are a lot of stories within the main story, and I haven’t quite determined what the main story is. I love those chapters which can be read as short stories. It is a political satire, but has plenty of horrid scenes of rape, torture and murder. But also wonderful things like a woman giving birth to a cat and people waking up from the dead.
This is the first book I have read by de Bernièreres, although I have had 5 of them on my book shelves for years. I’m glad this is just the first book in a trilogy because I simply fell in love with the nameless country.