A Canada Reads 2012: True Stories Contender and
long-listed for the Charles Taylor Prize for Literary
A gripping, darkly comic first-hand account of a young
underground revolutionary during the Pinochet dictatorship in 1980s
On September 11, 1973, a violent coup removed Salvador Allende,
the democratically elected socialist president of Chile, from
office. Thousands were arrested, tortured and killed under General
Augusto Pinochet''s repressive new regime. Soon after the coup,
six-year-old Carmen Aguirre and her younger sister
fled the country with their parents for Canada and a life in
In 1978, the Chilean resistance issued a call for exiled
activists to return to Latin America. Most women sent their
children to live with relatives or with supporters in Cuba, but
Carmen''s mother kept her precious girls with her.
As their mother and stepfather set up a safe house for resistance
members in La Paz, Bolivia, the girls'' own double lives began. At
eighteen, Carmen herself joined the resistance.
With conventional day jobs as a cover, she and her new husband
moved to Argentina to begin a dangerous new life of their own.
This dramatic, darkly funny narrative, which covers the eventful
decade from 1979 to 1989, takes the reader inside war-ridden Peru,
dictatorship-run Bolivia, post-Malvinas Argentina and Pinochet''s
Chile. Writing with passion and deep personal insight,
Carmen captures her constant struggle to reconcile
her commitment to the movement with the desires of her youth and
her budding sexuality. Something Fierce
is a gripping story of love, war and resistance and a rare
first-hand account of revolutionary life.