My Tender Matador (Paperback)
The book I read last year that I can't stop thinking about is My Tender Matador by the Chilean author Pedro Lemebel. Set during the final days of the Pinochet dictatorship, the novel tells the story of a flamboyantly gay man, eking out a living making dresses for the wives of generals and politicians. When he meets a handsome guerrilla, the two enter a relationship of mutual deception. Soon they're scouting locations for an assassination attempt, under the guise of a Sunday picnic in the country. Politics, love, fantasy, and denial swirl together in a complex story that is as funny as it is searing and caustic. The setting may be the other side of the world, but I know no better portrait of the moral and emotional complexity of life under duress--and the beauty to be found in the cracks of a crumbling system.
-David— From Books of the Year 2022
Centered around the 1986 attempt on the life of Augusto Pinochet, an event that changed Chile forever, My Tender Matador is one of the most explosive, controversial, and popular novels to have been published in that country in decades. It is spring 1986 in the city of Santiago, and Augusto Pinochet is losing his grip on power. In one of the city's many poor neighborhoods works the Queen of the Corner, a hopeless and lonely romantic who embroiders linens for the wealthy and listens to boleros to drown out the gunshots and rioting in the streets. Along comes Carlos, a young, handsome man who befriends the aging homosexual and uses his house to store mysterious boxes and hold clandestine meetings. My Tender Matador is an extraordinary novel of revolution and forbidden love, and a stirring portrait of Chile at an historical crossroads. By turns funny and profoundly moving, Pedro Lemebel's lyrical prose offers an intimate window into the mind of Pinochet himself as the world of Carlos and the Queen prepares to collide with the dictator's own in a fantastic and unexpected way.