FEAR THE CONDOR by David Nelson Blair
Kirkus Star


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Here, Blair (The Land and People of Bolivia, 1990) vividly depicts a little-known period in its history. In the 1930's, the indigenous Aymara Indians--virtually enslaved by rulers from the Incas to the Hispanic patróns--were brutally pressed into service in a futile territorial war with Paraguay. Donato Ch'oko is among those drafted, leaving his daughter Bartolina (10) to do the work of an adult in the fields and as a household servant of a patron's deputy. As their mountain village is robbed of able-bodied men, those left behind struggle for survival. Starving and overworked, Bartolina's compliant grandfather dies; her grandmother, widow of a man revered for leading a peasant rebellion, is shot while trying to renew the long-ago protest. Left alone, Bartolina joins cousins who fled earlier to La Paz. Against all hope, Donato survives, and they return to the village with new determination to throw off the patrón's yoke. In a spare, concrete style that's a convincing analogue to her native tongue, Bartolina's narrative beautifully conveys an untutored, superstitious, but intelligent girl as her horizons are broadened in the house where she is forced to work, by the war's cruel events, and by her sojourn in the city. In the end, she and Donato have learned to integrate the ""souls"" (aspects)--angry and accommodating--of the two grandparents, while Bartolina is finally willing to learn the forbidden skill of reading, which will be a powerful aid in their effort to be free. A fine first novel, written with rare sympathy and insight.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1992
Page count: 138pp
Publisher: Lodestar/Dutton