Book 761 Juan Jose Saer – The Witness

So far in attempting this challenge, the books I liked the least were the historical novels in translation so I took quite a deep breath for this one but it turns out that The Witness is pretty good and different as well.

It starts off a sort of Robinson Crusoe story, a young sailor crash lands on an island in the Americas and the whole crew are slaughtered by Indians, with the exception of him. The narrator and the dead crew is brought back into the tribe and stays there for ten years ( the crew are eaten and form part of a ceremony that is equally bizarre and horrifying) . He finds out that every year there is a mass slaughter and one survivor is brought back but usually they let him go.

When he returns to ‘civilisation’, he ruminates on the Indians customs and language and the second half of the novel becomes an anthropological study, which I did not expect at all. Being a student of anthropology, I was reminded of  when I had to write a research paper on the Yanomamo tribe and I found lots of parallels.

The Witness is one those books that deserve a lot of reflection, despite its brevity there’s a lot going on so absorb as much as you can.

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