Cover image for The dark bride : a novel
The dark bride : a novel
Restrepo, Laura.
Personal Author:
Uniform Title:
Novia oscura. English
Publication Information:
New York : HarperCollins, [2001]

Physical Description:
358 pages ; 24 cm
General Note:
Translation of: La novia oscura. 1999.
Geographic Term:
Added Author:
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Already an international bestseller, Laura Restrepo's transcendent new novel is now available in the United States.

One of the most provocative writers to emerge from the rich Latin American literary scene, Laura Restrepo is an author whose sensuous mix of realism and imaginative storytelling has made her an international bestseller. Her newest work, The Dark Bride, is a slyly humorous yet poignant love story. It was sparked by a photograph (shown on the jacket) taken by the late Colombian master, Leo Matix, of a sensual woman shrouded in mystery. Restrepo discovered the photo unexpectedly during her investigation into the rapacious workings of an American-controlled Columbian oil company and was immediately compelled to imagine the subject's life through a novel.

Using a series of subtly textured interviews, Restrepo's journalist protagonist mines a rich trove of characters -- fortune hunters, guerrilla chiefs, refinery workers, and prostitutes -- who, together with the narrator, attempt to decipher the impulsive and mysterious life of the young Sayonara, the unlikely heroine of The Dark Bride. Drawn like an exotic moth to work beneath on of the colored lights of La Catunga, the local house of prostitution, Sayonara is enigmatic and arrogant beyond her years. Her Indian origins a puzzle, she is transformed by her sage madam, the surprisingly maternal Todos los Santos, into the queen of her squalid Colombian barrio. Each month, Sayonara charms the oil workers of the Tropical Oil Company, who have journeyed down from the mountains searching for some earthly bliss. But it is not just oil workers who are captivated by Sayonara. She is also the flame that draws an unpredictable mix of haunting characters into the tragicomic obsession that is her life -- from Sacramento, the childhood playmate who is determined to rescue Sayonara from her unorthodox life, to the stranger Payan#65533;s, who is her one true love and carries secrets of his own. Sayonara is the Dark Bride who subtly reveals a personal and political universe forever marked by her passing.

Perceptive, richly detailed, yet effortlessly told, The Dark Bride is luminous and unforgettable.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Journalist, novelist, political activist and academic Restrepo (The Angel of Galilea; Leopard in the Sun) has written an innovative novel in the form of a journalist's investigation of a small Colombian oil town populated mostly by oil riggers and the prostitutes who service them. The narrator is a journalist who interviews a number of residents in the town of Tora, on the edge of the rain forest, in order to learn about the legendary prostitute Sayonara. The charismatic and irresistible daughter of a Guahibo Indian woman and a white man, Sayonara is the alpha whore of La Catunga, the barrio of prostitutes where the employees of the Tropical Oil Company come weekly to take their pleasure. Her downfall comes when she falls in love with two men, both workers with Tropical Oil. Sacramento she loves as a brother; Payanes as a lover. But Payanes is already married when they meet, and Sayonara considers marrying Sacramento, who desperately wants to save her from prostitution. Sayonara's story emerges through the lyrical voices of the interview subjects, as well as the more straightforward journalistic style of the narrator. Aphorisms abound ("The factory that smells the best is the most poisonous"), and the mostly evocative, textured prose has occasional moments of stiffness ("She was a bundle of scared chicken bones, anxious to find a connection to the world"). Still, it's hard not to get caught up in Restrepo's sexy, whirlwind narrative, which also reveals much about the effects of the global economy and Latin American politics on one small corner of Colombia. Agent, Thomas Colchie. (Aug. 1) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Restrepo (Leopard in the Sun) elegantly tells the story of a young girl looking for work as a prostitute in the oil-producing city of Tora, Colombia. Shortly after her arrival, she is renamed Sayonara, and from that day on, she stirs the souls of the prostitutes and the men in the barrio who take her into their lives. Over time, Sayonara becomes a legend, enjoying the affections of her customers. This all changes when she breaks the sacred rule of the business and falls in love and nothing can save her from her own infatuation. The novel is told from the perspective of a journalist who accidentally stumbles upon Sayonara's story. Through interviews with the people who came into contact with the exotic native beauty, a tragic and vivid love story unravels. Although the story moves slowly at times, Restrepo's poetic and humorous writing makes up for any dull moments. Recommended for all libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 5/15/02.] Sabrina Ferrer, formerly with "Library Journal" (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.