In the early 1990s, Ángel had served as an army soldier, engaging in brutal acts whose aftermath still reverberates. He is forced to reckon with his past when a woman he was instructed to kill enters the store where he works.
... lyrical ... The story unfolds in layers, moving smoothly back and forth in time ... Ángel consults unexpected guides...each with a unique life philosophy and portrayed with complexity and empathy ... Throughout, details capture the essences of places and people. Cueto’s scenes and descriptions are tactile and immediate, conveying subtext and deeper meaning. Metaphors set a mood that supports the story’s overarching themes of trauma, guilt, and the idea that we are forever bound to people we harm and who harm us, even if that harm is unintended. Spare language and well-placed observations result in interludes for absorbing the deeper implications of situations, adding tension and emotional texture. A series of quiet moments build to a crescendo and emotional catharsis ... a powerful, multilayered novel that meditates on life and death, pain and suffering.
This installment feels more like two novels. The larger part is rote exercise and bald suspense. Within this, there is a more nuanced, and thus more mesmerizing, consideration of purpose and atonement, but because it’s subsumed by Cueto’s flailing prose and tiresome stereotypes, in the end, it doesn’t amount to much ... The translators Frank Wynne and Jessie Mendez Sayer haven’t lost anything here. This is a story about a man’s veneration of two women he wronged — the dead mother he neglected in life, and the person he shot — yet it offers not a single convincing female character, instead parading around 'enchantresses' and girls who have 'legs like a gazelle.' Women in this novel are either 'slim' or not pictured ... Machista litanies of sexual assaults and torture feel pat, flat and not in the spirit of bearing witness, setting a record straight or even probing the depths of the human psyche in an effort to comprehend the sadism of men toward women, as presented throughout the book ... The dubious conclusions The Wind Traveler draws are a far cry from the moral solution it set as its task. It remains for the reader to fathom the problem of guilt and redemption — provided she’s slim enough to do so.
... staggering ... Cueto imbues every page and character with the brutal consequences of war in his compulsively readable story of a man’s reckoning with a history of violence. Wynne and Mendez’s splendid translation brings readers an essential work of Peruvian literature.