Barry McNamara  |   Published August 28, 2019

Writing about Revolution

Francisco Ángeles’ fourth novel, Adiós a la revolución (Goodbye to the Revolution), ties together themes of love, eroticism, politics, philosophy and U.S.-Latin Latin America relationship.

MONMOUTH, Ill. – Ever since he was a child, Francisco Ángeles has wanted to write.

FRANCISCO ÁNGELES: One reviewer wrote that his fourth novel consolidated him "as one of the most prominent (Peruvian) voices among the writers of his generation.” The Monmouth College professor is fulfilling that dream, and his fourth novel, Adiós a la revolución (Goodbye to the Revolution) may be his best yet.

“Writing was the first thing I intended to do,” said Ángeles, who joined the College’s Department of Modern Languages, Literatures and Cultures in 2017. “This is what I wanted to do my whole life.”

In his native Peru, Ángeles has been a journalist and worked in public relations. Carving out time for his writing has been hard, both in Peru and in the United States, but he broke through with his first novel in 2008. His second and third novels were published in 2014 and 2016, respectively.

Like the central character in Adiós a la revolución, Ángeles is a Peruvian emigrant who has served as a professor in Pennsylvania. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and Latin American literature from the Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos, then completed master’s and doctoral degrees in Hispanic studies at the University of Pennsylvania. Prior to teaching at Monmouth, he was a lecturer at Bryn Mawr (Pa.) College.

Ángeles said the novel ties together several themes, including love and eroticism, politics, philosophy, the relationship between the United States and Latin America, and the relationship between men and women. Perhaps most important, though, is another concept.

“This book gets into the idea of theory vs. practice,” he said. “A lot of radical scholars and people on the far left – their lives are different from the way they write. This book is about living according to your ideas – putting into practice your ideas. Is it possible?”

Reaction to the book has been very positive, with Ángeles earning 4.5 stars out of 5 from one of the most notable Peruvian reviewers.

El Comercio, the Peruvian newspaper that is the equivalent to the New York Times, gave Ángeles a two-page spread celebrating the novel, and his friends took notice.

“I woke up that morning to more than 20 notices from friends congratulating me,” he said.

Wrote one reviewer: “With Goodbye to the Revolution, his most notable novel, Francisco Ángeles is consolidated as one of the most prominent voices among the writers of his generation.”

Ángeles speculated one reason his book has been so well-received is for his willingness to go off script.

Ángeles said the reason his books have been so well-received in Spanish, but have not entered the American market yet is for the cultural expectations the “First World” market shows when dealing with artists, writers and filmmakers coming from the “Third World.”

“From us, as Latin Americans, audiences expect certain types of subject matter – things like violence and poverty,” he said. “If you’re Cuban, it might be books about dancing or sex or the beach. If you’re Mexican, it’s characters dealing with immigration or narco or both. But I’m a Peruvian writer with a middle-class Peruvian character living in the United States. Just for that, it’s hard to find the interest of American or European editors. So, you’re a Peruvian writer and wrote a novel? So, where is terrorism? Where is the starving indigenous population? It’s a battle I’ve been having for years – to not write the stereotype. I’m still on it.”

Ángeles will return to a Peruvian setting for his fifth book. While his first and third novels were set in Peru during turbulent times in the late 20th century, he will write about contemporary Peru – winemakers in the southern part of the country. He has also finished a film screenplay that he hopes will be produced next year.

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