Santa Evita

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  • Format: Trade Paper
  • Copyright: 1996-09-17
  • Publisher: Vintage

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From one of Latin America's finest writers comes a mesmerizing novel about the legendary Eva Peron. Bigger than fiction, Eva Peron was the poor-trash girl who reinvented herself as a beauty, snared Argentina's dictator, reigned as uncrowned queen of the masses, and was struck down by cancer. When her desperate but foxy husband brings Europe's leading embalmer to Eva's deathbed to make her immortal, the fantastical comedy begins.

Author Biography

Tomas Eloy Martinez was born in 1934 in Argentina. During the military dictatorship, he lived in exile in Venezuela where he wrote his first three books, all of which were republished in Argentina in 1983, in the first months of democracy. During a fellowship at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for International Scholars, Martinez wrote <b>The Peron Novel</b>, which was published in 1988.


On coming out of a faint that lasted more than three days, Evita was certain at last that she was going to die. The terrible pains in her abdomen had gone away, and her body was clean again, alone with itself, in a bliss without time or place. Only the idea of death still hurt her. The worst part about death was not that it occurred. The worst part about death was the whiteness, the emptiness, the loneliness of the other side: one's body racing off like a galloping steed.

Although the doctors kept telling her that her anemia was in remission and that in a month or less she would regain her health, she barely had the strength left to open her eyes. She was unable to get out of bed no matter how intently she focused her energies on her elbows and heels, and even the slight effort of turning over on one side or the other to relieve the pain left her breathless.

She did not seem to be the same person who had arrived in Buenos Aires in 1935 without a penny to her name, and who acted in hopeless theaters where her pay was a cup of coffee with milk. She was nothing or less than nothing then: a sparrow at an outdoor laundry sink, a caramel bitten into, so skinny it was pitiful. She began to make herself look pretty with passion, memory, and death. She wove herself a chrysalis of beauty, little by little hatching a queen, who would have ever thought it?

...Nobody realized her illness not only made her thinner but also made her more hunched up. Since they let her wear her husband's pajamas till the end, Evita drifted about more and more aimlessly inside that vast expanse of cloth. "Don't you think I look like a Jibaro, a pygmy?" she said to the ministers standing around her bed. They answered her with adulation: "Don't say that senora. If you're a pygmy, what can we be: lice, microbes?" And they changed the subject. The nurses, however, turned her reality upside down: "See how well you've eaten today?" they kept saying as they took away the dishes she hadn't touched. "You look plumper, senora." They fooled her like a child, and the rage burning inside her, with no way out, was what made her gasp for breath: more than her illness, than her decline, than the senseless terror of waking up dead and not knowing what to do."

From the Hardcover edition.

Excerpted from Santa Evita: Spanish-Language Edition by Tomas Eloy Martinez
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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