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War and Peace for 21st century

(China Daily/Agencies)
Updated: 2011-02-21 15:02
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The first time as tragedy, Karl Marx said of history's repetitions, the second time as farce. He didn't suggest a mode for the third time, but Carlos Fuentes does: the telenovela, the interminable soap opera of conspiracy and delusion, capitalism and its demons.

Destiny and Desire (Random House) is a novel that sprawls and circles, not exactly a parody of War and Peace, but certainly a spectral, playful revision of the idea of a novel that competes with history.

It offers lavish quantities of comedy, satire, allegory, fantasy and brilliant political commentary; makes coded allusions to recognizable celebrities like the communications magnate Carlos Slim; evokes the work of Spinoza and Machiavelli; includes ghosts, graves, murders, a voluble flying prophet and a talking severed head.

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