Santiago Gamboa: black and macabre Colombian

one of the first (if not the first) novels of the noir genre that I read in the Hispanic-American narrative field was Losing is a matter of method (1997), with which Santiago Gamboa, a Colombian from Bogotá (a frequent setting for his novels, preferably urban ones), almost began his long narrative career, whose most recent exhibition is Colombian psycho (Alfaguara, 2022), a title that plagiarizes the american psycho (1991) – X-ray of a murderous psychopathic killer in the New York setting -, authored by Bret Easton Ellis. Years later (2000) the film of the same title was released and a resounding success, directed by Mary Harron. Serial murders, macabre terror, corruption and violence, a prison underworld, a delayed and entertaining investigation and a Bogotá suffocated by fear and danger and an unstoppable, obsessive rain, is the subject of this amazing novel by S. Gamboa, who exhibits here his condition prose writer, versatile narrator and capable of building a story unfolded in various anecdotal sequences and different and even opposite expressive tones. Not only can the reader endure these almost six hundred pages: he enters them with increasing intensity of attention and enjoys a plot in which humorous moments and situations and revealing details of the writer’s own ingenuity are added to the usual strokes of the noir genre. , who, unexpectedly, ends up getting into fiction as one more character but it doesn’t last long.

Is Colombian psycho aspires to give an urban image of current Colombia from different sides, but a critical-satirical image rooted in endemic evils that are secularly installed in its society and that not even the last signing of the Peace Process in Havana has managed to erase. Sectors such as the army, justice, culture or the economy register and testify to the permanence of corruption and violence. The brand of the country is accentuated in the expressive plane, which moves in the colloquial (and even slang) urban, in lexicon and phraseology, with abundant samples. The key to the story – criminal, delinquent, terrifying, bloody to the point of cruelty – is the investigation, the search, which determines a high narrative rhythm, a proliferation of scenery and the concurrence of antagonistic characters: persecutors (the group chaired by the meticulous prosecutor Jutsiñamuy) and criminals, both with equal gender endowment, terrain in which the humorous vein of the writer is fattened: the dead amputee is “the cut off”, the bald man is a “capillary disabled”, group sex responds to the “theory of polyamory”. Another dimension of the novel is the presence of indigenism under a non-traditional prism; in particular, the rites, myths and superstitions referring to the afterlife and, on the other hand, to the modern technology of communication instruments.

It is Colombian Psycho, in short, a protean novel in constant growth and with a varied subject, which amplifies the core of the generic black. A hard X-ray of fear and death, a chronicle of reality and narrative fiction, of the vital and of psychic disturbances; It has curious and even amusing details that comfort and encourage its reading, which summer favors. Go for it.

Santiago Gamboa: black and macabre Colombian