The Armies, By Evelio Rosero
Winner of the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, this quietly devastating novel speaks gently but strikes deep.
The Armies tells of the destruction of a highland town by the rival bands of soldiers and guerrillas that plague rural Colombia. Perfectly pitched and paced, Anne McLean's English version does it due honour.
This war is every war; these victims all victims; these "armies" every pack of kids ever given guns. Yet this is the reverse of a nihilistic novel, as acts of love and trust shine all the brighter in this darkness. If our age of cyclical terror and counter-terror needs its own answer to All Quiet on the Western Front, here it is.