Nicholas Hasluck's latest book "Che's Last Embrace" incorporates the quest to find information about the missing diaries of Laredo, a member of Che's band in the failed revolution in Bolivia. Set in present day Bolivia, a Sydney artist struggles to find a meaningful symbol for an art contest, and tries to find meaning in the international symbolism of Che and Laredo to suit Australian culture. Through her archaeologist brother's search for the diaries in Bolivia, and the mystery of the elusive Laredo, missing from other accounts of Che's last days, the nature of fact, meaning and cultural appropriation in modern Australian society is explored. Hasluck's beautiful writing style brings the natural magical realism of the Bolivian setting alive, as he entwines the seemingly unlikely connections of Che's revolution and contemporary Australia and opens a window onto social forces actively evolving. Doubts about Che's demise and a possible escape to Australia forges a connection between the two worlds.
Nicholas Hasluck is an Australian writer who has traveled widely in South America. His novel The Bellarmine Jug won The Age Book of the Year Award. Two of his later works, Truant State and The Country Without Music, were short-listed for the prestigious Miles Franklin Award. The London Financial Times has called him ‘a truly important writer’.
A contemporary artist is out to win a portrait prize by sketching a Che Guevara rebel from the old Australian colony in Paraguay. The artist’s brother is troubled by doubts about the rebel’s heroic identity and feels obliged to investigate.
Set largely in South America, the novel explores divergent approaches to the truth in the wilds of Bolivia where Che sought to ignite a widespread revolution. The investigation ends in Sydney where Che’s ambitious dreams are still revered and the prize will soon be awarded. The counter-factual mysteries to be unraveled mirror South America’s own ingenious literary form, magic realism, a form reflecting the post-modern world’s richly-imagined but often bizarre perceptions.
‘Hasluck brings sharp intelligence and sensitivity to morally ambiguous matters.’ – Peter Pierce, The Weekend Australian