Good Offices is the second novel by Evelio Rosero (after The Armies, 2009) to be published by New Directions. It’s also the first to be translated by Anne McLean in collaboration with Anne Milsom.
In Good Offices, we are released into the world of Tancredo, a hunchback who has a deep fear of becoming an animal. Tancredo, the sexton’s goddaughter (Sabina Cruz) and the three witchlike widows work for a corrupt priest providing charity meals for the local poor. Their endless labor has drained them of their humanity. Their daily routines are soon to be broken, however, with the arrival of a new priest: Father Matamoros, a drunkard with a beautiful voice whose sung mass is spellbinding to all. Under the magical and disillusioning presence of Father Matamoros, the women and Tancredo spill their confessions and turbulent stories.
Rosero was born in Bogotá, Colombia in 1958. His novel The Armies, called “an important and powerful novel” by the Times (London), won the Tusquets International Prize and the 2009 Independent Foreign Fiction Prize. He was awarded Colombia’s National Literature Prize in 2006 for his body of work, which includes several novels and short-story collections. Rosero’s work takes inspiration from Colombian landscapes as it engages with the often dark and tortured aspects of social reality.
In an interview with Bomb magazine, Rosero said: “All I know is that this madness, this knife’s edge where reality and unreality take place, are here, they breathe around every street corner, and they are what propels my writing.”