This sumptuously written thriller asks probing questions about how we live with each other and with our planet.
Raised on his wits on the streets of Central America, the Cobra, a young debt collector and gang enforcer, has never had the chance to discern between right and wrong, until he’s assigned the murder of Polo, a prominent human rights activist—and his friend. When his conscience gives him pause and his patrón catches on, a remote Mayan community offers the Cobra a potential refuge, but the people there are up against predatory mining companies. With danger encroaching, the Cobra is forced to confront his violent past and make a decision about what he’s willing to risk in the future, and who it will be for.
Following the Cobra, Polo, a faction of drug-dealing oligarchs, and Jacobo, a child caught in the crosshairs, Rey Rosa maps an extensive web of corruption upheld by decades of political oppression. A scathing indictment of exploitation in all its forms, The Country of Toó is a gripping account of what it means to consider societal change under the constant threat of violence.
Praise for Rodrigo Rey Rosa
“Intense … By the end of this novel you feel glad to have come out on the other side and carry the hope that Rodrigo Rey Rosa, those close to him, and his fellow countrymen will do so, too.”
—New York Journal of Books
“Rodrigo Rey Rosa creates stories of mythic proportions.”
—San Francisco Chronicle
“[Human Matter‘s] exploration of the history of violence and secrecy in Central America has obvious relevance to today’s politics, but the tale of a writer trying to understand the truth behind the things he’s seeing gives the novel a resounding, universal echo.”
“Rey Rosa, a Guatemalan writer often compared to Roberto Bolano … was inspired to write a meta-novel about his experiences [visiting Guatemala’s National Police archive] and the stories he uncovered. The result … reads like the journal of a heartbroken researcher who stumbles on the darkest truths about his native country.”
“Wonderful … The tension between the fundamental pleasure of the novel—which comes from trying to piece together meaning out of the disparate information available to us and the narrator’s insistence that it’s futile—creates a weirdly gratifying reading experience.”
—Chicago Review of Books
“To read him is to learn how to write and is also an invitation to the pure pleasure of allowing oneself to be borne along by sinister or fantastic stories … To say that Rey Rosa is the most rigorous writer of my generation, and at the same time the clearest, the one who weaves his stories together best, the most brilliant of them all, is not to say anything new.”