{Bookworm Reads} The Invisible Mountain excerpt: Salomé

Image by Sasha H. Muradali. All Rights Reserved 2009.


Montevideo, Uruguay, 1966: Salomé is fifteen years old. She has watched the nation become increasingly repressive, as well as admired the Cuban revolution from afar. Her best friend, Leona, has just led her to a clandestine meeting…

Step into a world like none other: a world of women, ancient tradition and culture that is underlined by the will to survive. This is the world of The Invisible Mountain.

Written by Uruguayan-American author Carolina De Robertis, the story starts on the first day of the millennium in a small town where the local people have gathered to watch a miracle: the reappearance of a lost infant, Pajarita. The tale continues through Pajarita’s lineage, her daughter Eva and her granddaughter Salomé. From the growing city of Montevideo, to Perón’s glittering Buenos Aires to the rustic hills of Rio de Janeiro, The Invisible Mountain is a rich illustration of Latino and Spanish language and literature.

About the Author

Carolina De Robertis was raised in England, Switzerland, and California by Uruguayan parents. Her fiction and literary translations have appeared in ColorLines, The Virginia Quarterly Review, and Zoetrope: All-Story, among others. She is the recipient of a 2008 Hedgebrook Residency for Women Authoring Change and the translator of the Chilean novella Bonsái by Alejandro Zambra. She lives in Oakland, California.

Excerpt I: Pajarita on Voces

Except II: Eva on La Bloga

Excerpt III: Salomé (below)

They entered a cramped dark room with no windows. Four people sat

inside: Leona’s sister, Anna, with her long face and gold-rimmed glasses;

a young man in a starched collar; another man in his late twenties with a

square face and bushy beard; and a broad, large muchacho with hair that

wisped into his face, who looked older than Salomé, about seventeen.

He looked familiar, but she couldn’t place him, couldn’t think, because

they all were staring at her.

Leona motioned for her to sit down. Salomé arranged herself carefully

on the freezing floor, regretting that she’d rushed out in her knee-length

school skirt. She tasted the mingled breaths of six people and two oil

lamps.

Bushy Beard nodded toward Leona, who closed the door.

“So,” Bushy said, “you’re Salomé.”

She nodded. All eyes were still on her.

“She can really be trusted?”

Leona’s nod was decisive.

Bushy stared at Salomé. His eyes were dark green, shaded by a ledge

of brow. “What do you know about the Tupamaros?”

She cleared her throat. So here it was. “They plan to liberate

Uruguay.”

“Where did you hear that?”

“In the papers—”

“The papers are much less favorable.”

“And my family talking.”

The wisp-haired boy grinned and now she placed him, the grandson

of Cacho Cassella, the magician from Abuelo’s youth. Tinto Cassella. He

winked at her in the low light.

Bushy continued. “What do you think about the Tupamaros?”

She had rolled that question through her mind all day. “That they’re

important. And brave.”

“What would you say to a Tupamaro if you met one?”

She saw Leona in her peripheral vision, lifting her chin, leaning for-

ward, and Salomé could almost smell the eucalyptus, feel the stippled

light of their lawn. “ ‘I admire what you’re doing and I want to be part

of it.’ ”

Bushy Beard was impassive. “What if that Tupa told you that libera-

tion is only achieved by action—including force, when necessary?”

That was when she saw the guns. They almost blended into the dark

walls: rifles in the corner, a pistol at Anna’s knee. She’d seen guns before,

on policemen, in soldiers’ hands, in photos of the Cuban Revolution—

but never so close, and not in the lap of a university girl, not within

reach of a man giving her a test. Her body felt like a cup full of crushed

ice, so tight and cold. But guns, of course, were necessary, weren’t they?

A dirty need that you don’t want but can’t ignore, like defecation. She

thought of Che, luminous Che, embracing a sleek rifle in his sleep. The

air hung thick, unventilated, pressing.

“I’d agree.”

Bushy Beard leaned closer. “How old are you?”

“Fifteen.”

“You understand what’s being asked?”

“Yes.”

“You don’t think you’re too young?”

“No.”

He stroked his beard. He glanced around the room. “Any com-

ments?”

Tinto raised his hand. “I know her. Our grandparents are friends.

She’s a good person, reliable.”

Leona added, “I would trust her with my life.”

“That’s good,” Bushy Beard said. “You may have to. Any concerns?”

The room was silent.

“All in favor?”

All the members raised their hands. Leona hugged her tightly. “Wel-

come, friend.”

Excerpted from THE INVISIBLE MOUNTAIN by Carolina de Robertis Copyright © 2009 by Carolina de Robertis. Excerpted by permission of Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

You can pick up a copy of the novel here.

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Sasha Muradali runs the ‘Little Pink Book’ . She holds a B.S. in Public Relations from the University of Florida (’07) and an M.A. in International Administration from the University of Miami(’08). She loves Twitter and all things social media, so you should find her @SashaHalima.

Copyright © 2009 SashaH. Muradali. All Rights Reserved.