Book Review: Papers in the Wind by Eduardo Sacheri (Translated by Mara Faye Lethem)

PITWWhen I think about Argentinian football there is one standout memory and that is the 1978 World Cup. As a football mad sixteen year old, I can remember staying up into the early hours to watch the games from South America. One of the most memorable images came in the Final when the host nation played the Netherlands. With the entrance of the teams onto the pitch in Buenos Aires, the stadium sky became filled with blue and white tickertape. The volume of the streamers was such that it adorned the pitch throughout the Final as Argentina overcame the Dutch 3-1 after extra time.

That image came to mind not only because Papers in the Wind is set in Argentina, but for me the book title simply evokes that image of the tickertape torrent of 1978. However, this interpretation is only a very personal one, as it could equally be seen to reflect the player contract which is part of the plot of the book or even a metaphor for the uncertainty and turbulence of life.

And as the title works across a number of themes, so does the book itself. At the centre of the story is Alejandro “Mono” Raguzzi who dies of cancer, his elder brother Fernando and their best friends Daniel “Ruso”, and Mauricio. Mono fails to make the grade as a footballer, but becomes a successful systems manager and is offered a promotion as regional manager. However, he turns down the job and instead takes a redundancy package. With a desire to be involved in football, Mono invests $300,000 into an upcoming player, Pittilanga, who has played for Argentina’s Under 17’s.

However, when Mono dies of cancer, the promising player is found struggling in the lower leagues and Fernando, Ruso and Mauricio are left to try and resurrect the career of the player and somehow get a return on the $300,000 investment, so that Mono’s daughter Guadalupe might be provided for in the future.

The often comic story of their schemes and travails are interspersed with flashbacks to the time of Mono’s diagnosis and subsequent treatment. In these evocations of the past, the decline in Mono’s health is echoed through his feelings and reflections on the lack of success of his beloved team, Club Atlético Independiente.

However, this is not simply a book about football, or indeed a comic novel. This is a book about relationships and loyalty – the bond of brothers, of best friends, of husband and wives and of parents and children.

Ultimately, Eduardo Sacheri has crafted some wonderfully rounded and believable characters and given them life through some excellent dialogue. A great read whether you are a football fan or not.


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Posted May 23, 2014 by Editor in category "Reviews

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