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The Troublesome Offspring of Cardinal Guzman is the hilarious sequel to The War of Don Emmanuel's Nether Parts and continues the history of the surreal South American country which de Bernieres created in that book. The president is still undertaking his bizarre search for sexual fulfilment with his ex-stripper wife, this time travelling to Paris for the fitting of a mechanical device to extend the length of his erections. The government continue with their unbelievable corruption to govern the country in their inept manner, staging pretend assassinations, petitioning FIFA to have a penalty decision against the country's football team reversed and funding guerrillas fighting in the jungle. A pantheon of private demons visits Cardinal Guzman and in an effort to rid himself of them he launches a horrifying Inquisition upon the country. The Inquisition descends upon the unsuspecting populace to root out heresies and unbelievers. The citizens of Cochadebajo de los Gatos continue to establish their idyllic neo-civilisation in the mountains, the ex-whores, ex-guerrillas, de-frocked priest and giant black cats living their lives apart from the rest of the country. They entertain the British Ambassador, bring down a helicopter and finally come to a spectacular confrontation with the Inquisition. I loved this book as much as Don Emmanuel and Captain Corelli, Louis de Berniers writing style is wonderful; his sense of humour is perverse and slightly black but very entertaining. The book includes chapters such as "In Which His Excellency President Veracruz Wins The General Election Without Rigging It Very Much", "An Apocalypse Of Embarrassment Strikes The City" and "In Which Dionisio Humanely Miscalculates" The characters introduced in Don Emmanuel are here enlarged upon and we grow to love them even more, along with the new friends we meet. Many of the characters remain from Don Em manuel including; Dolores the whore who has now opened a restaurant and is now a whore only on Friday & Saturday nights, Father Garcia who is visited by the Inquisition and saved by St Dominic and the Conde Pompeyo Xavier de Estremadura the resurrected conquistador, and of course the enormous black jaguars which live amongst the people. The new characters include a Mexican musicologist who is wooed by identical twin sisters without realising there are two of them and then marries both because, according to Father Garcia they were made from a single split egg and therefore, scientifically speaking, and in the eyes of God, they are only one person. And of course the eponymous Cardinal Guzman who has fathered a son on his housekeeper and then holds himself responsible for the death of this boy, at this point he begins to suffer terrible stomach pains and believes himself to be giving birth to evil spirits - the "offspring" of the title. Some of the funniest passages in the book are the stories of life in Cochedabajo and many of these are related in the first person by the Mexican musicologist and one of the best is the tale of "How We Brought The Tractors From Chiriguana To Cochedebajo de los Gatos" which is achieved by the use of a helicopter gunship and several army engineers. Interspersed with this are the "Submissions of the Holy Office to His Eminence" - the reports of the Inquisition to Cardinal Guzman on the heresies they have rooted out. Their mission is set to climax in a spectacular confrontation with the inhabitants of Cochedebajo. This book is unlike anything else you will have read and is a wonderfully imaginative story that will keep you entertained throughout. I read it on holiday in about two days and loved it, much better than Captain Corelli but much less well known. De Bernieres country and its people are a wonderful creation and you are completely drawn into their strange, esoteri c, magical world. It's a farce, it's a comedy, it's a morality tale, it's.....The troublesome Offspring of Cardinal Guzman and it's unique. Enjoy.
The third part of a trilogy, following The War of Don Emmanuel's Nether Parts, which won the Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best First Fiction. The author expands his panorama of South American life with a story full of quizzical events, where farce and tragedy interbreed.