21 July 2012

Antofagasta - A Novel by Alex Barr


Although he was British my father-in-law was brought up in Peru. My wife Rosemarie had always wanted to see the house in the Lima suburb of Miraflores where he lived. Years after he died she asked her aunt to remember the address. Fackary? What kind of street name was that? But there was a Figari, and there it was, the house he was once photographed outside—now a pizzeria.
We went to Peru via Chile, which in 1990 was just emerging from the nightmare of the Pinochet era. People were beginning to speak freely again. This is the setting for my novel Antofagasta. As my favourite author Borges is South American, it seems appropriate. (We were told Chileans regard Argentinians as a bit too full of themselves.) We found Chileans charming and pleased that we visited their country. So although the villain of the novel is Chilean, it should be obvious that he is very much the exception.
I’ve always loved road movies and detective stories, and Antofagasta has elements of both. Shakespeare fans may detect signs of larceny from the works of the bard. I’ve done a lot of amateur acting. My last appearance was as a headless ghost at the opening of Fishguard Arts Society’s latest exhibition. Places and travel are important to me and have inspired a lot of the short stories I’ve written. Sadly, my travel these days is restricted, having taken to heart the words of George Monbiot on climate change, ‘If you fly, you destroy other people’s lives.’
At the moment I’m branching out—to my surprise—into illustration, which I haven’t done since I drew political cartoons for The Wichita Beacon. (Jo Ellen in the novel worked for the sister paper, the Eagle, but as she’s fictitious I never met her.) I’m collaborating with Peter Oram of Starborn Books on a very unusual series of books for children. More anon when I get my blog going . . . meanwhile thanks to Tony for hosting me on his.

Alex Barr

Preview Antofagasta - A Novel

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