In brief: Good Offices

Good Offices
Evelio Rosero
2011, Quercus
141 pages, hardback

EVELIO ROSERO dips into the surreal tradition of literature in his native Colombia to weave a tale about a parish priest’s household in a poor barrio of Bogotá. Predictably, the objective is to expose the human frailties and hypocrisy of the priesthood. It’s now de rigeur to attack the Catholic church with one eye on northern modernity. But coming as it does in the midst of the euphoria among Colombia’s chattering classes at the prospects for material advancement offered by the free trade agreement with the US – prospects that will be severely dashed, inevitably, when hidden protectionism starts to limits Colombia’s gains – one has to ask if intellectuals in the country have given sufficient thought to what they are doing. After all, sidelining a millennial force that has shaped the Colombia that Rosero and his peers can make so much of as they work for a Protestant materialism that shuts churches while opening Wal Marts doesn’t make for a cultural revolution. Read Good Offices with sceptical caution.- GJ