The Gringa by Andre Altschul – BOOK SPOTLIGHT #bookspotlight


A gripping and subversive novel about the slippery nature of the truth and the tragic consequences of American idealism.

Leonora Gelb came to Peru to make a difference. A passionate and idealistic Stanford grad, she left a life of privilege to fight poverty and oppression, but her beliefs are tested when she falls in with violent revolutionaries. While death squads and informants roam the streets and suspicion festers among the comrades, Leonora plans a decisive act of protest—until her capture in a bloody government raid, and a sham trial that sends her to prison for life.

Ten years later, Andres—a failed novelist turned expat—is asked to write a magazine profile of “La Leo.” As his personal life unravels, he struggles to understand Leonora, to reconstruct her involvement with the militants, and to chronicle Peru’s tragic history. At every turn he’s confronted by violence and suffering, and by the consequences of his American privilege. Is the real Leonora an activist or a terrorist? Cold-eyed conspirator or naïve puppet? And who is he to decide?

In this powerful and timely new novel, Andrew Altschul maps the blurred boundaries between fact and fiction, author and text, resistance and extremism. Part coming-of-age story and part political thriller, The Gringa asks what one person can do in the face of the world’s injustice.


Andrew Altschul is the author of the novels Lady Lazarus (2008) and Deus Ex Machina (2011). His work has appeared in EsquireMcSweeney’sThe Wall Street Journal, PloughsharesFenceOne Story, and other publications, and in anthologies including Best New American VoicesBest American Nonrequired Reading, and O. Henry Prize Stories. A former Wallace Stegner Fellow and Jones Lecturer at Stanford University, he has received fellowships from the Bread Loaf and Sewanee Writers Conferences, the Ucross Foundation, the Fundación Valparaíso, and the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center. He was the founding books editor at The Rumpus and is a Contributing Editor at Zyzzyva. The former director of the Center for Literary Arts at San Jose State University, he now directs the Creative Writing program at Colorado State University. He lives in Fort Collins, CO.

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“Beautifully executed… gripping… a multi-layered, immersive novel in which the atmosphere and history of Peru leap off the page.” — Times of London

“Impressively textured… a story with an activist’s righteous energy and a novelist’s psychological depth.” — The Los Angeles Times

“Fiery, probing… a deeply humane book, one that reminds us that the best questions are those that are both urgent and impossible to answer.” — The Forward

“Altschul’s ambitious and culturally aware novel is a captivating depiction of passion, disenchantment, and hope gone violently awry.”  Booklist (starred review)

“Rousing and complex. Altschul’s stirring portrait… poses a salient question about the value of personal sacrifice.” — Publishers Weekly

“Psychologically rich and closely observed… A sensitive portrayal of the search for meaning in an unforgiving world.” — Kirkus

“A poignant, provocative, and necessary novel for our times.” — Largehearted Boy

“An exciting addition to the literature of terrorism and revolution.” — Karan Mahajan, author of The Association of Small Bombs

“Andrew Altschul is a radiantly wise and uncannily perceptive writer.” — Molly Antopol, author of The UnAmericans

“Utterly immersing, excoriatingly intelligent… eccentric, raging, demanding. The word is ‘masterpiece.’” — Mark Slouka, author of The Visible World

About fredreeca

I am an avid reader and paper crafter. I am a mom of 2 children, 5 dogs and 1 cat. I am a huge St. Louis Cardinals Fan
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