- Paperback: 450 pages
- Published: 2/1/05
- IBSN: 9781888451672
- Hardcover: 400 pages
- IBSN: 9781888451252
- Genre: Fiction
The Ancient Greek thriller from the author of Adios Muchachos, winner of an Edgar Award.
Nominated for an Anthony Award and a 2004 IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.
Praise for Daniel Chavarría:
“Daniel Chavarría has long been recognized as one of Latin America’s finest writers.”
—Edgar Award–winning author William Heffernan
“Celebrated in Latin America for his noir detective fiction, Uruguayan author Chavarría makes his English-language debut with this fast-paced novel . . . a zesty Cuban paella of a novel that’s impossible to put down.”
—Library Journal, on Adios Muchachos
“Out of the mystery wrapped in an enigma that, over the last forty years, has been Cuba for the US, comes a voice so cheerful, a face so laughing, and a mind so deviously optimistic that we can only hope this is but the beginning of a flood of Latin America’s indomitable novelists, playwrights, storytellers. Welcome, Daniel Chavarría.”
—Donald Westlake, author of Trust Me on This
“I recommend that we all do as Fidel likely does: light up a cigar and turn Chavarría’s pages, with pleasure.”
—Thomas Adcock, author of Grief Street
The Eye of the Cybele, Akashic’s second release by celebrated Uruguayan mystery novelist Daniel Chavarría, is equal parts historical epic, whodunnit-style thriller, highbrow erotica and philosophical discourse. Set in late sixth-century BC—during the reign of Pericles—the novel fictionally recreates the behind-the-scenes scandals and political intrigues that occupied the Athenian home front at the height of the Peloponnesian War.
The novel’s central character is Alcibiades, a stutteringly precocious Athenian general whose physical beauty, unparalleled Olympic achievements, and reckless courage on the battlefield earn the fanatical enthusiasm of the polis; the affection and desire of Lysis, a lusty and seductive temple prostitute; the admiration and patronage of Socrates; and the jealousy and suspicion of Nicias, one of the city’s most powerful generals and a leading competitor for the favor of both Pericles and the masses. At the center of it all is the Eye of the Cybele, a sacred jewel whose mysterious disappearance sets in motion a sequence of deceptions, subterfuges and failed schemes that ultimately undermine the self-serving ambitions of both Alcibiades and Nicias.
Much of the novel’s real action takes place behind the scenes, however, through the comically megalomanical preoccupations of the Keeper of the Sum, a mad but charismatic beggar-priest who founds—and personally administers the sensual sacraments of—a new Cybeline cult. While the core beliefs and aspirations of the Golden Age are beginning to crumble from within, Chavarría depicts—in the phallically obsessed reveries of the Keeper—the birth pangs of a new world religion.
Chavarría blends conventional third-person narrative, formal epistles, and deliriously sensual streams-of-consciousness to create a novel which progresses at a lively pace. Along the way there are savage scenes of torture and war, convoluted tales of political maneuvering, luridly sensual descriptions of cult sexual activity, and spirited philosophical debates. In a stunning denouement, Chavarría masterly employs the Socratic method to demonstrate the Socratic roots of the suspense genre, with the great skeptical philosopher himself unwittingly assuming the role of a Nick Charles–style detective who logically eliminates one hypothesis and suspect after another to identify the novel’s real culprit for an equally uncomprehending audience.
DANIEL CHAVARRÍA is a Uruguayan writer with two passions: classical literature and prostitutes. For years he was a professor of Latin, Greek, and classical literature, devoting much of his time and energy to researching the origins and evolution of prostitution. He has won numerous literary awards around the world, including the 1992 Dashiell Hammett Award and the 2001 Edgar Allan Poe Award. His novels include Adios Muchachos, The Eye of Cybele, and Tango for a Torturer.