El rehén (The Hostage)

El rehén (The Hostage)

Dum Dum Editora, 2021
98 pages

Published by

Bolivia Dum Dum Editora / Spain and Latin America Periférica /​ Brazil Todavia Livros / Israel Locus Publishing House

Chased by debt and resentful that his wife left him to fulfil her dream of being a driver of her own minibus, Cristian’s father fakes the kidnapping of their two sons, locking them into a house in the periphery of La Paz. Cristian and his brother Tavo will have to live alongside a group of kids from the neighborhood and with the cat Chikorita. As the days pass, this forced vacation will show its more haunting side: the world of children is a laboratory that experiments on friendship, but also on masculinity and violence.

Mamani masterfully explores and deconstructs themes so stereotyped in the Bolivian imaginary: nationalism, friendship, betrayal, alcohol as the trigger for storytelling, and women’s place in society.

El rehén is a complex portrait of the father-son relationship, far from commonplace and with out escaping its contradictions, and it also shows the plebeian Bolivia with language that bites, sparks and jumps out at you with life.


Mamani’s novels are unforgettable, necessary, and wonderful. Liliana Colanzi

This novel is that Bolivian cumbia that rings from afar but that we recognize from the first chord, that rhythm that puts up a mirror of Bolivian contemporary society in a raw and Scorpian way. Valeria Arias Jaldin, La Razón

It consolidates Gabriel Mamani not just as a novelist but a great one. Juan P. Vargas, Página Siete

Mamani’s prose is lyrical and minimalist in equal parts. A narrative pace that articulates moments of contemplation, vertigo, and lucidness. PublishersWeekly

Gabriel Mamani Magne’s language explodes in the brevity to emotionally liquidate the reader. Alba Balderrama, La Ramona Cultural

Gabriel Mamani Magne’s second novel confirms a powerful voice among current storytellers. Mónica Velásquez, La Razón

The harsh end of childhood vibrates with pure cumbia, cruelty and tenderness in El rehén. Gabriel Mamani Magne moves with his vital, hard, and beautiful prose. Gabriela Cabezón Cámara, Finalist for the Man Booker International Prize

El rehén is a wild yet surprisingly tender tale of Bolivian brothers who get tangled up in their parents’ misadventures. Joaquín Gavilano’s translation is perfectly attuned to the unique voice of Gabriel Mamani Magne, making this an absolute delight to read. Jennifer Croft, translator of Olga Tokarczuk and author of Homesick

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