It would take me months to tell you all that I do not know about Uruguay and since we have neither the time nor the interest let's talk about a novel set in Uruguay instead. It's The Invisible Mountain by Carolina De Robertis. The Invisible Mountain is my first experience with Uruguay, fictional or otherwise, and what a nice place to start.
This novel is a multi-generational look at Uruguay (with some side trips to Argentina) across most of the 20th century through the eyes of three women. All three will face the challenge of surviving with both her individuality and family intact according to the standards of her time. On New Year's Day 1900 there is a miracle in a small town of Tacuaremb in the Uruguayan countryside. The baby that had been missing for a year, Pajarita, flies down from the treetops and into her Grandmother's arms. Years later Pajarita will fall in love at first sight with a mysterious Venetian immigrant with a dark family secret. Their daughter, Eva, a fragile but determined woman will find a way despite incredible odds to follow her dream of being a poet. Eva's daughter, Salome, rejects her Mother's art and becomes an urban guerrilla during the violent unrest of the 1960's questioning everything but her own principles.
Carolina De Robertis has taken the time worn family saga, added a little magic realism, a little real life realism, a whole lot of good writing and created a bold, soulful novel. The writing in The Invisible Mountain is lush but never florid. Most of the males in the novel are devils tarred with the same brush but De Robertis keeps her females more dimensional. These women are each strong in their way but far from perfect. De Robertis has kept Pajarita, Eva and Salome true to their historical era. In doing so De Robertis makes the changing roles of her three women play very nicely against the drastic political changes in Uruguay and Argentina. The Invisible Mountain is a provocative and expressive introduction to Carolina De Robertis and Uruguay.