A dazzling debut about the demented final project of a brilliant mathematician, recalling the best of Bolaño, Borges, and Calvino, Colonel Lágrimas is an allegory of our hyperinformed age and of the clash between European and Latin American history.
Holed away in a cabin in the Pyrenees, the world-famous and enigmatic mathematician Alexander Grothendieck is furiously racing death to complete a final project. But what exactly is this monumental, mysterious undertaking? Why did a militant and one of the greatest geniuses of the twentieth century suddenly abandon politics and society altogether? As the reader pursues the answer to these questions, overlapping narratives emerge. On the one hand are the strange characters crowding the mathematician’s imagination: Chana Abramov, a woman obsessed with painting the same Mexican volcano a thousand times, Vladimir Vostokov, an anarchist in battle with technological modernity, and Maximiliano Cienfuegos, a simple man who will become the symbol for Europe’s restless political conscience. On the other is the protagonist’s life story, from the Russia of the October Revolution to the Mexico of the anarchic 1920s, from the Spanish Civil War to Vietnam, from France to the Caribbean islands. Out of this Borgesian web emerges a tragicomic allegory for the political arc of the past century, one that began addicted to political action and ended up hooked on big data.
Loosely based on a true story, Colonel Lágrimas is a world-spanning tour de force of history, politics, literature, mathematics, and philosophy that wears its learning lightly, resulting in an appealingly human story of the forces that have created the modern world.
"An intriguing and unforgettable verbal kaleidoscope." —Ricardo Piglia
“A wonderfully playful and poetic dialogue with the past, written with a wisdom, elegance, and generosity astonishing for a first novel.” —Chloe Aridjis, author of Book of Clouds and Asunder
Carlos Fonseca Suárez was born in Costa Rica in 1987 and grew up in Puerto Rico. His work has appeared in publications including The Guardian, BOMB, The White Review, and Asymptote. He currently teaches at the University of Cambridge and lives in London.