Benedetti cuts out sensory detail, as if not only Santiago but his family were confined to a concrete cell. The result is profoundly lonely. In style and structure, Springtime in a Broken Mirror reproduces the isolation that its characters feel ... [Benedetti] never imagines his own return to Uruguay, which took place a few years after Springtime in a Broken Mirror was published. Nor does he break the wall between himself and his characters. He never writes about them, or to them. The divide remains intact ... In 1983, Benedetti wrote in El País that 'dis-exile will be a challenge as arduous as exile was in its moment, and may prove even more complex.' The final chapters of Springtime in a Broken Mirror contain that knowledge, or fear. Benedetti’s characters will suffer through dis-exile, isolated from each other and perhaps from themselves. Santiago’s spring will be like a mirror with 'a broken corner'—but, even then, both the mirror and the spring are 'useful.' Benedetti’s honest reflection of exile is, too.
At times, Benedetti interjects his own experiences, blurring the line between memoir and epistolary fiction. Compared to Gabriel García Márquez and Carlos Fuentes, Benedetti deserves greater recognition stateside, and this will, one hopes, be the first of many of his titles to be translated into English.
... spare but deeply felt ... interludes of empathy allow the reader to feel deeply for the fictional Santiago, the man at the center of the novel whose life is disintegrating unbeknownst to him while he writes hopeful letters home ... The denouement of this plot is anticlimactic compared to the book’s more interesting thematic elements ... give[s] testament to the irrepressible gravitation of human consciousness toward inner and shared truth, whether it’s something we want to see or not.
Benedetti explores the pain of separation from loved ones, the mix of loneliness, hope and despair in a man who has no idea when he'll be released ... The language is often beautifully expressive, as when Don Rafael reflects that one day his son 'will have to see Graciela through the bars of another man’s love.' This powerful novel evokes the works of Gabriel García Márquez. Vivid characters caught in a repressive regime fuel this powerful novel.
...rich, heartbreaking ... Benedetti’s tender yet unflinching portrait of a family in the crushing straits of history is a welcome addition to the small (and hopefully growing) catalogue of his work that has been translated into English.