The Revolutionaries Try Again plays out against the lost decade of Ecuador's austerity and the stymied idealism of three childhood friends—an expat, a bureaucrat, and a playwright—who are as sure about the evils of dictatorship as they are unsure of everything else, including each other.
You’re never directly informed about what counts as revolution and who in particular is trying to achieve it. Instead, The Revolutionaries Try Again dissects a decade of Ecuadorian austerity and idealism through often jarring and always stunning literary montage ... what Cardenas does so adeptly in his debut novel is highlight conditions against which feelings of pointlessness emerge in the first place.
This is a book at once haunting and haunted, rippling with the ghosts of Latin America’s atrocities, disappointments, colonial strangleholds, insurgencies and fierce hopes, a book at once specific to Ecuador’s historical realities and bursting with significance to our whole hemisphere ... The style of this book is as ambitious as its territory, moving fluidly from voice to voice, from luminous long sentences to syntactical fragmentation. Cardenas, an Ecuadoran now living in San Francisco, has made the Nabokovian move of claiming adoptive English as his own, and he gives us many beautifully eloquent moments ... There are times when the structure of the book strains under the weight of its own ambition, where the language seems to fray. But this flaw is ultimately overshadowed by the novel’s explosive power.
...a young Ecuadorian writer named Mauro Javier Cardenas has emerged, standing in Bolaño’s shadow. His debut novel, The Revolutionaries Try Again, captures both the starry-eyed vision of a younger generation and the 'tragic and pathetic' results of failing to come to terms with adulthood ...a novel that redefines the Latin American identity in a world characterized by social technology and ever-blurring ethnic boundaries ... novel alternates perspectives, mostly following Antonio, but also hops inside the heads of some of his former classmates ... Gradually, periods are replaced by commas and then hyphens and slashes, until we find ourselves lost (in the best sense of the word) in a splintered stream of consciousness that mimics Antonio’s restlessness and the country’s fractured politics.