The unnamed narrator of Daniel Alarcón’s second full-length novel, At Night We Walk in Circles, uses a collage of diaries and interviews to piece together the story of a young actor, Nelson, and his only tour with Diciembre, a guerrilla theatre company. After a 15-year hiatus – caused in part by the incarceration of their talismanic leader, Henry Nuñez, on bogus charges of terrorism – the company are going back on the road with a revival of Henry’s play The Idiot President. As the title suggests, it is an absurdist political black comedy (in the mould of Ionesco), which satirises the preposterous leader of an unnamed South American country. When Nelson is cast in a leading role, it is the fulfilment of a lifetime’s ambition to act alongside his political and theatrical hero, but as the tour progresses – through an unnamed South American country – the distinction between Henry and the president he is nightly eviscerating begins to blur.
The tour increasingly becomes a descent into Henry’s memory and past, with his actors and small band of supporters cast in unexpected roles that extend well beyond the bounds of a play. After the curtain call one evening Henry is pulled from the stage, in what many in the audience