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The Sound of Things Falling, the third novel by Colombian author Juan Gabriel Vásquez, follows law professor Antonio Yammara in Bogota as he recalls how his life has been affected by the Colombian drug trade. The 2011 novel, translated to English in 2012 by Anne McLean, toggles between Yammara’s life in 2009 and his perspective at the height of the drug wars in the 1990s. As he muses on the past, a repressed memory resurfaces: his acquaintance, ex-pilot and ex-con Ricardo Laverde, was mysteriously and fatally shot, and Yammara still can’t make sense of what happened. In fact, he was a victim of the shooting himself, surviving a bullet to the stomach. Revisiting this dark memory triggers Yammara’s need to understand not only why Laverde was killed, but also how the cartels ravaged his own life. A master of Latin American noir, Vásquez is fearless in his portrayal of the indelible effects the cartels have had on the lives of everyday citizens. —Rachel Sonis

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