Snake and the Condor, The

Snake and the Condor, The

Two young lovers are hunted from South America to England attempting to escape agents of Pinochet's murderous régime in Chile


Santiago, Chile, at the height of Pinochet's reign of terror in the late twentieth century. Julieta, the Juliet of this 'Romeo and Juliet' story and the daughter of a senior government official, is to be married to the army officer of her father's choice. She attempts to escape with the boy she loves to the Peruvian Andes, but her father's tentacles reach across South America and even as far as England. The young lovers are caught up in a series of gripping adventures and narrow escapes. They are helped by a courageous priest, whose mission is to save opponents of Pinochet from the prisons, torture chambers and executions of the military régime.
The Snake and the Condor is more than a retelling of one of the great love stories of world literature. It also studies the cruel effects of colonization, forced conversion and economic exploitation on non-European civilizations. It evokes the fear, suspicion and uncertainty on which tyranny and dictatorship thrive.


Set against the brutality of the Pinochet régime in Chile, Robert Southam's vertiginous tale of the flight of two lovers from across the racial and class divide follows the fortunes of Julieta and Mawi as they criss-cross through that country, Bolivia and Peru and then on to London, keeping just ahead of their pursuers. En route we get to see the devastation wrought on individuals and communities, especially indigenous ones, by unbridled capitalism and its militaristic allies. Southam manages the pace of the novel skilfully, combining hairpin-bend plot twists with detailed, almost ethnographic descriptions of the communities through which the couple pass. The author writes with a tingling, heart-pounding tenderness of the lovers' growing awareness of and feelings for each other as they resist oppression and uncertainty together. The narrative and the detailed scenes through which it develops make this a compelling and emotional experience. ~ Paul Simon, The Morning Star

From the first lines the standard is set and the reader is at Southam's beck and call. His powers of description are at points so strong that they are disturbing. Southam creates characters that are believable, subtle, and often deeply comic, while consistently providing room for political reflection. ~ Hayley Broad, Leeds Literary Review

Profoundly rich and transporting... This beautiful book plunged me into another world. From the first page I knew I was in the hands of a seriously good storyteller - every scene vivid, brimming full of life. Robert Southam writes with passion and poise and humour, touching on the darkest reaches of the human soul, but always quick to soar with joy and relish for the world's good things. He is one of those generous writers who makes the reader feel more alive. ~ Dr Andrea Ashworth, book critic for Harper's and Vogue, and author of the bestseller, Once in a House on Fire

Robert Southam
Robert Southam I graduated from Oxford a while ago, taught English literature at university for a time but felt too young for a secluded life, trained as a...
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