The current issue of Arcadia recounts "El affaire Roncagliolo", which is one of the most insane things I've read in a while. Santiago Roncagliolo, the Peruvian author of Abril rojo (translated by Edith Grossman as Red April) was hired by a certain elderly woman to write her biography several years ago. She was the member of an old Italian family that had emigrated from Italy to the Dominican Republic in the 1920s, where the patriarch worked for Mussolini and had run-ins with Trujillo, the CIA, and Castro. Due to all the dirt she was spilling, the family blocked its publication, and so Lobos en el paraíso (Wolves in Paradise) was never published.
Last year, Roncagliolo's last novel was released. Memorias de una dama follows a young Peruvian woman who is hired by an wealthy eldery woman to write her biography. The latter was the member of an old Italian family that had emigrated from Italy to the Dominican Republic in the 1920s, where the patriarch worked for Mussolini and had run-ins with Trujillo, the CIA, and Castro...
Now, the novel is virtually impossible to find. After releasing it in Spain, the publisher has halted distribution in the Dominican Republic and throughout Latin America, citing "commercial reasons". While attempting to get to the bottom of things, Arcadia received an anonymous email claiming a secret agreement was reached involving the family, Roncagliolo, and the publisher to halt distribution or face a hefty fine.
Literary scandal and gossip are one thing. But what baffles me is why would he do something so risky? He claims that the novel is his greatest success and "en esencia" (essentially) an original story. But I wouldn't be surprised if all this turns out to be an experiment of some sort, his attempt to test the boundary between fiction and "reality", or even the public perception of literary scandal (apparently, pirated copies of Memorias de una dama are being widely read in the Dominican Republic). It's hard to believe he doesn't know exactly what he's doing.