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author essay: searching for guzman

The Dancer Upstairs: an excerpt


Like a cross between Joseph Conrad and John Le Carré, Nicholas Shakespeare deftly paints a portrait of love and suspense amidst a South American country in turmoil. Ravaged by terrorists, the country is on the brink of revolution when a police officer captures the elusive guerrilla leader. A foreign journalist meets this police officer by chance after he's gone into hiding, and the story of the capture of the infamous Ezequiel, a story that has never been told, begins to grandly unfold.

Almost as compelling as the novel is the story of how Shakespeare came to write it. Ten years ago he went to Peru to search for the leader of the Shining Path, Abimael Guzmán; one of several trips to that country which provided the background for his novels. In an astounding twist of fate, art and life imitated one another as the details that Shakespeare made up for his fictional terrorist leader turned out to hold true for one of the world's most wanted men. Here, along with an excerpt from The Dancer Upstairs, is the story of Nicholas Shakespeare's jouney into the very heart of terrorism.

Photo of Nicholas Shakespeare © Jerry Bauer.

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