The Impostor: A True Story

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From the onset we must congratulate Frank Wynne for his excellent translation of this book from its original Spanish. Perhaps few here in America will remember the international scandal that was discovered at the annual commemoration of those who endured the concentration camp at Mauthausen that revealed the president of the Spanish association of Nazi camp survivors was never in a Nazi camp, duping everyone for three decades. Books and periodicals of all stripes had been written about Enric Marco who had been viewed as the champion of the Spanish anti-fascist rebellion. And then suddenly the headlines proclaimed that instead of being a hero, Marco was the worst sort of liar.

If Cercas had merely trumpeted the demise of Marco, his work would have been no more than a poke in everyone’s eye, including the media who had made Marco into a champion years before the truth came out. Instead, Cercas delves into questions that make us very uncomfortable about how much of ourselves we reveal to the world around us. In an age of diminishing privacy, Cercas questions whether or not any of us has the right to keep dark secrets about ourselves.

In Spain, Cercas is famous for writing novels and non-fiction narratives like this one. He believes that fiction saves us, but truth kills. Then the author attempts to save Marco, possibly because none of us wants to be a murderer even for the sake of truth.

Similar to Vonnegut in the telling of Slaughterhouse Five, Cercas writes this narrative in first person, bringing us along in the process step-by-step to give us the same internal turmoil that effects an author tasked with telling an ugly truth. By sharing this turmoil and challenging us to wrestle with our own falseness while we judge Marco’s, the reader has a chance to see beyond the surface. The author comes away a different man after writing the truth about an impostor and offers us the same chance.


Reviewed By:

Author Javier Cercas • Frank Wynne, Translator
Star Count 5/5
Format Hard
Page Count 384 pages
Publisher Knopf
Publish Date 2018-08-28
ISBN 9781524732813
Amazon Buy this Book
Issue Mar-19
Category Biographies & Memoirs
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