Cover

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Title Page

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Copyright Page

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Contents

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Prologue: Why Turn to Fiction?

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pp. vii-xiv

Over the forty years that I have been conducting research in Peru, there have been events that have haunted me that I have not been able to forget nor write about in the venues offered in anthropology. In order to gain closure and provide a form of therapy for myself...

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Acknowledgments

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p. xv

I started writing scenes for this novel in 1986 while I was a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, D.C., as I faced the difficulties of how to publish interview materials of victims of political violence. I wish to thank Catherine Allen and Regina Harrison for...

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1. Under the Banquet Table

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pp. 1-12

I heard the bone splintering . . . she was sucking out the marrow. Romulo Rosetti Martinez reached down and handed Cholita another bone. She hungrily grabbed it and continued sucking. The sounds crawled like fingers up and down my spine. I said...

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2. The Search Begins

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pp. 13-28

I stepped off the plane into the waves of heat rising up from the runway. I knew I looked like a grandmother taking a Christmas holiday. My short, gray hair was in disarray and I was dressed for northern climes, not the tropical heat here. I didn’t have a free hand to smooth...

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3. Memories of Lima

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pp. 29-37

I gathered my bags, went directly to the taxi counter, and gave the address of Carlos, my long-time friend and former lover. As I settled into the back of the taxi, I was so engrossed in thinking about the people I planned to see in Lima that I hardly spoke to the driver....

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4. Larco Herrera

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pp. 38-46

As the cab crawled through the congested traffic of La Molina, I took inventory. I got out a notebook and pen and formulated questions I wanted to ask. I had decided not to bring my digital tape recorder because I didn’t have permission to record Felix’s sister’s story. A deep...

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5. The Autopsy

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pp. 47-63

"You can't do this, compadre! For God’s sake, she’s the mother of your child! What’s wrong with you? Are you mad?” My words are hardly audible as they whistle past my clenched teeth. Just then a large gust of wind make the eucalyptus trees surrounding the cemetery...

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6. An Encounter with the State

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pp. 64-72

The truck bumps along the dirt road from Pumapumku to Cangallo. José, the driver, lights a cigarette and opens his window to let the smoke out, allowing the dust from the road to pour into the cab, clinging to our clothes and our hair and clogging our nostrils. This...

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7. The Prisons

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pp. 73-83

The smell of eucalyptus that had assailed me outside of Larco Herrera after visiting María, Felix’s sister, had again returned me to the cemetery in Pumapunku. During the hour-long cab ride to Carlos’s house, I remained silent, afraid of what the cab driver might...

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8. The Rosetti Nose

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pp. 84-100

That evening after a leisurely dinner with Carlos, I hurriedly made reservations to fly to Ayacucho the next day. Carlos again tried to convince me to abandon my quest, but I now felt certain I would find Cholita. He embraced me after dinner and bid me good luck...

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9. Romulo's Letter

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pp. 101-109

As I stood in front of the battered door to the Rosetti hacienda, echoes of that fiesta so many years ago sounded in my head. My reverie was broken when a group of musicians, a harpist and several violinists, passed by on their way to early Mass and Christmas rehearsal...

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10. The Dust of the Ancestors

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pp. 110-114

That night in my dream, my wall-constructing project advanced further than it ever had before. I felt exhausted when I rose at five a.m. to pack my travel gear for the trip to Pumapunku. I rolled up my sleeping bag and thought that without this bag I would have frozen...

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11. Through the Puma Door

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pp. 115-131

The king-cab Toyota truck was waiting for me as I ducked through the small door cut in the ancient, battered portal and handed my gear to the driver, who tossed my bags into the back and fastened the canvas tight over the cargo. He introduced himself as Jorge Quispe and...

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12. The Convocatorio

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pp. 132-152

Tomás Vilca sent a young varayoq to ring the church bell at 9 a.m. for villagers to gather in front of the municipal building. Close to eight hundred people answered the call and congregated around the plaza. Young people perched on the wall that surrounded the...

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13. The Cure

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pp. 153-169

Clotilda and Gregorio sat on low stools in the cooking hut waiting for their comadre and the two psychologists to arrive for the evening meal to discuss the cure that was planned for Tuesday. Gregorio turned to his wife and said, “Wife, do you think we can create a new...

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14. Finding Cholita

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pp. 170-196

I slept fitfully; my mind swirled with images and dreams. The wall construction advanced quickly with a large contingent of villagers helping me. The dead victims drew closer and smiled. I woke with a start with one task on my mind: I had to write the letter to...

Glossary

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pp. 197-199

Suggested Readings and Resources

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pp. 201-206