A brutal, searing story of prison life in latin America in which Sanchez uses the device of the ""found"" papers to reconstruct the fate of ""Jacinto"" serving a life sentence in the Penitentiary of San Luca off the coast of Costa Rica. Jacinto is an Innocent -- an illiterate, ingenuous peasant hauled off in chains to this island of the damned; Dante's Inferno is, by comparison, a humane and civilized spot. Despite the grisly tortures, bestial guards, tropical malaria, iron shackles, whippings, and constant hunger, Jacinto endures -- a sorrowful, grieving witness to the dehumanization of those around him. ""They say that in prison everyone suffers, the suffering cements a brotherhood between men; but it isn't that way."" He feels his own humanity being slowly sapped; he calls on God to turn his head; he tries an impossible escape in shark-infested waters; his leg is chopped off with a blacksmith's axe. . .before some revolution or other begins to dole out the first reforms that will many, many years later turn San Luca into a showpiece jail. Jacinto's extreme simplicity and Sanchez' distilled, luminous prose may prove burdensome to American readers (the book was a runaway best seller in Mexico) so many agonies are piled one on top of another that a kind of saturation of misery ensues. Relentless and oppressive.