The Return of Lupe García
For ever in love
Gono, the narrator, fell in love with Lupe García at school the day he met her. She had returned from exile in The Netherlands, where she and her mother had fled the military dictatorship that, for years, had imprisoned her father in the Penal, a notorious jail. Later, Lupe goes back to The Netherlands to study journalism but visits her country of birth every year. After finishing her studies, she returns to South America, planning to make a documentary about the jail.
She hires Gono, now an unemployed, alcoholic barman, as production assistant. Partly due to his heavy drug use, the entire project is derailed and is transformed into violent revenge against the former executioners of the military regime.
At least, Gono manages to realize the original aim of the documentary to film inside the notorious Penal – by ending up there himself. De terugkeer van Lupe García (De terugkeer van Lupe García) tells the story of a lost generation that does not know what to do with itself.
But Trujillo’s story is humorous and told at cinematic speed, with a quick succession of scenes full of absurd, colourful detail, bizarre characters and both comic and dramatic events. It is also a beautiful love story, about a man who manages to make his adolescent love his own by making a great sacrifice and, in doing so, is separated from her. In that sense, the story can be compared with Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Marquez, in which both lovers keep missing each other throughout their lives. In Trujillo’s novel, it is the military dictatorship which separates married couples from each other and their children, causing the pain to be passed on to a second generation. It is a formidable theme, but treated by Trujillo with stylistic bravura, humour and a beautifully constructed plot, which makes the story all the more exciting.