|About the Book|
First published in 1903 A fuego lento has all the elements to be considered a veritable roman clef: its first part takes place in some caribbean place that under the despective name of Ganga hardly conceals its real identity as the colombian city ofMoreFirst published in 1903 A fuego lento has all the elements to be considered a veritable roman clef: its first part takes place in some caribbean place that under the despective name of Ganga hardly conceals its real identity as the colombian city of Barranquilla, where Emilio Bobadilla lived during some months in 1898 and from where he was ousted, embittered and angry with the local literary circles. His later expulsion from the country by president Jos Manuel Marroqun (1827-1908) did not precisely contribute to his appeasement, thus his retaliation with his best weapon, his pen. What he depicts is sperpentic and Bobadilla, enrolled in positivism does not leave the occasion go by without highlighting with irony his lombrosian observations. At the end of the XIX Century Barranquilla had grown vertiginously from pauper settlement to main colombian port. In spite of widespread analfabetism, revolutions and come and goes of political factions, to the enthusiastic locals the city deserved to be considered Colombias New York, the New Barcelona, or the New Alexandria. It boasted several cinemas, and even the italian opera and spanish theatre companies performed there before their tournees through the country. To this place, flogged by prodigious rainpours, sticky heats and unbriddeled sensuality arrives Dr. Baranda, a Dominican exile who had studied medicine in Paris. Freshly arrived from a refined civilization he is an attraction to the local notables, the same that quite soon strive to tear him down enraged by what the consider the doctors aloofness and by the fact that he had managed to obtain the favours of Alicia, a sensuous and attractive half bred that whetted the appetite of a local kingpin. This circumstance forces him back to Paris -taking Alice with him- where the second and third part take place. There the tropical excess becomes hidden explosions: the social appetite of Alice -fuelled by money and jewels and under the provincial and tacky influence of old acquaintances from Ganga, also emigrees in Paris- frustrates the doctors desire to live as a true blue parisian. He thus falls seriously ill and finally dies in spite of the presence of the other, a delicate, refined and cultivated french woman whom Dr Baranda gives up due to his lack of courage to abandon Alicia. He perishes under low fire, as the title goes. Bobadillas pen is agile, and makes a point of depicting in a tragicomic manner -quite rare among the writers in his time- the extravagancies of a panorama drenched in all corrupting suns and dampness. Carnal desire constantly breathes around, and the characters skins ooze an imposible to disclose tropical barbarism, a clear precedent to modern Latin Mmerican narrative.