This novel is a bit of a 21-century rewriting of Vargas Llosa’s Story of Mayta. Murillo Bianchi is a young Peruvian writer (he was born in 1986) who is writing about the notorious guerilla group The Shining Path that devastated Peru in the 1990s.
Murillo Bianchi is an ok writer but he’s no Vargas Llosa. He’s trying so hard to be completely objective and show that the revolutionaries are exactly as atrocious as the military that he gets downright clinical at times. The humanity and the compassion of Vargas Llosa’s novel is nowhere to be found in Sentimental Heroes. And it’s not like Murillo Bianchi doesn’t try. He even has a character who is a gay revolutionary, like Mayta. But he has nothing like the complexity of Vargas Llosa’s character.
And obviously in terms of the technical literary mastery, Murillo Bianchi is light years behind Vargas Llosa. As I said, it’s not a bad novel but the guerrilla novel is a crowded genre, and if you want to be present in it, you’ve got to do better than this.