By Evelio Rosero
WINNER OF THE INDEPENDENT FOREIGN FICTION PRIZE 2009In a small town in the mountains of Colombia, Ismael, a retired teacher, spends his mornings gathering oranges in the sunshine and spying on his neighbour as she sunbathes naked in her garden. Returning from a walk one morning he discovers that his wife has disappeared. Then more people go missing, and not-so-distant gunfire signals the approach of war. Most of the villagers make their escape, but Ismael cannot leave without his Otilia. He becomes an unwilling witness to the senseless civil war that sweeps through his country with a tragic inevitability. In The Armies Rosero has created a hallucinatory, relentless, captivating narrative often as violent as the events it describes, told by an old man battered by a reality he no longer recognizes.
By Donna Milner, Patricia Rodriguez
Growing up in the 1960s on a dairy farm in the mountains of British Columbia, Natalie Ward knew little of the outside world. But she had her family. A family so close and loving that Natalie believed they were the envy of the nearby town of Wakefield - particularly her eldest brother Boyer, whom Natalie held especially close to her heart. But Natalie began to question her family's idyllic existence the summer she turned fifteen. The arrival of a soft-spoken stranger, an American draft-dodger called River, would test the morals and beliefs of the family and the community to breaking point. The series of events following that summer day would leave relationships shattered and the Ward family changed forever.