Nelson’s life is not turning out the way he hoped. His girlfriend is sleeping with another man, his brother has left their South American country and moved to the United States, leaving Nelson to care for their widowed mother, and his acting career can’t seem to get off the ground. That is, until he lands a starring role in a touring revival of The Idiot President, a legendary play by Nelson’s hero, Henry Nunez, leader of the storied guerrilla theater troupe Diciembre. And that’s when the real trouble begins.
The tour takes Nelson out of the shelter of the city and across a landscape he’s never seen, which still bears the scars of the civil war. With each performance, Nelson grows closer to his fellow actors, becoming hopelessly entangled in their complicated lives, until, during one memorable performance, a long-buried betrayal surfaces to force the troupe into chaos
“Wise and engaging…a provocative study of the way war culture ensnares both participant and observer, the warping fascination of violence, and the disfiguring consequences of the roles we play in public…[a] layered, gorgeously nuanced work…the ending is a quiet bomb, as satisfying as it is ambiguous.” —New York Times Book Review
"The delicate precision, mounting tension and unfolding tragedy in this masterful book make it difficult to remember the story did not actually take place...Alarcón teaches us, in these pages, that perception and memory are relative. We see what we want to see, we believe what we want to believe. Performance can consume and distort. And time moves differently for all of us." —Chicago Tribune
“Alarcón is one of those rare writers getting away with doing exactly what he wants… Like Rachel Kushner’s...The Flamethrowers, this is a story about the initiation of a young artist …[At Night We Walk in Circles is] consistently compelling…Alarcón’s smoothly polished prose [is] flecked with wit and surprisingly epigraphic phrases…with lines that knock the wind out of you.” —Washington Post