Friday, May 23, 2008

Albert Sánchez Piñol: Pandora in the Congo

Michael Eaude reviews Albert Sánchez Piñols' Pandora in the Congo.
Albert Sánchez Piñol's second novel is an action-packed adventure story in the best Rider Haggard tradition. It is also a parody of such novels and a sophisticated reflection on the imaginative power of literature. More complex than Cold Skin, the Catalan author's novel of terror on an Antarctic island, it shares a nightmarish closed space where the protagonists face the attacks of non-human assailants. What they really face is their own fear.

Here the closed space is a clearing in remotest jungle where the aristocratic Craver brothers, fleeing disgrace in England, seek their fortunes in a gold mine. As the mine deepens, first a strange half-human woman they call Amgam emerges, and is at once enslaved as a sexual object by the Cravers. Then masses of Tectons, as they name the underground creatures, pour out of tunnels to attack them. Only Marcus, the gypsy servant, gets out of the jungle to tell the story.
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