WHO AMONG US? by Mario Benedetti
Translated by Nick Caistor
About a page into Who Among Us?, I found myself howling with laughter. Picking over the ashes of his marriage, Miguel comes out with what has to be the most hilariously self-effacing and caustic statement of spite I’ve ever read. With considerable glee, he notes that his children are as unimpressive and ugly as him, and that’s something his wife will have to live with forever. It sets the tone for his monologue - one deeply scarred by insecurity and second-guessing - charting his relationship with Alicia, and their shape-shifting friendship with Lucas.
Any sense of Miguel’s pathetic capitulation is driven home by Part 2, Alicia’s brief retort, in which she mourns the squandered potential of their love. Resigned to a failure of Miguel’s making, she has left him to try again with Lucas. Had Benedetti ended the book there, I’d have called it a masterpiece equal to Alberto Moravia’s brilliant tragi-comedy Contempt. Alas, we’re lumped with Lucas’s perspective in Part 3. He is a successful, if kind of mediocre, writer and he revisits their past through a thinly-veiled short story. It’s tricksy and a little naff, though probably revolutionary for its time. Still, read Parts 1 & 2.
Who Among Us by Mario Benedetti (Tr. Nick Caistor)
Penguin, 2019 (First pub. 1953)