How this Argentine writer escaped the English speaking world for so long is a mystery to me. ‘Caterva’ (meaning ‘Horde’ or Rabble’) is a highly dense, playful, comedic novel which follows a rag tag group of would-be revolutionaries throughout the Argentine countryside looking to spark a worker’s revolution.
There’s hardly a ‘plot’ to speak of but the novel is full of linguistic games, philosophical ruminations, comedic episodes, political insights and a tremendous amount of word play which will have some readers running off to the dictionary.
From 1937, the novel is a creature of it’s time and in a lot of ways way ahead of it. While reading it, one thinks of novelists such as Thomas Pynchon, whose equally dense and playful novels wouldn’t appear until over 20 years later. Fans of Pynchon’s work should read this. They’ll find a kindred spirit in a lot of ways.
Dense, sometimes surreal, mysterious, funny, ‘Caterva’ is one of those novels (like Joyce’s ‘Ulysses’) that one will come back to again and again and always find something new and interesting to contemplate. It may take some time to read this — and one may not digest all it has to offer — but it’s well worth the read.