Dance for Me When I Die

Dance for Me When I Die

Latin America in Translation/En Traducción/Em Tradução

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Book Pages: 144 Illustrations: Published: April 2019

Latin American Studies > Southern Cone, Literature and Literary Studies > Creative Nonfiction, Sociology > Urban Studies

On the morning of February 6, 1999, Buenos Aires police officers shot and killed seventeen-year-old Víctor Manuel Vital, better known as Frente, while he was unarmed, hiding under a table, and trying to surrender. Widely known and respected throughout Buenos Aires's shantytowns for his success as a thief, commitment to a code of honor, and generosity to his community, Frente became a Robin Hood--style legend who, in death, was believed to have the power to make bullets swerve and save gang members from shrapnel. In Dance for Me When I Die—first published in Argentina in 2004 and appearing here in English for the first time—Cristian Alarcón tells the story and legacy of Frente's life and death in the context of the everyday experiences of love and survival, murder and addiction, and crime and courage of those living in the slums. Drawing on interviews with Frente's friends, family, and ex-girlfriends, as well as with local thieves and drug dealers, and having immersed himself in Frente's neighborhood for eighteen months, Alarcón captures the world of the urban poor in all of its complexity and humanity.


"Dance for Me When I Die is a multifaceted marvel: part investigation, part eulogy, and a nuanced, subtle description of a culture steeped in violence and fatalism. Cristian Alarcón is a masterful writer and an intrepid, sensitive reporter, and this book is a must-read. You'll emerge from its spell with a new understanding of youth and violence at the margins of Latin American society." — Daniel Alarcón, author of The King Is Always above the People

“Cristian Alarcón’s book is so good that reading it almost feels like a sin. He brings out the full humanity of the survivors of addiction, drug dealing, theft, and murder who live in Buenos Aires’s shantytowns, and his magic with words makes you become enchanted by and forgive completely unforgivable characters. The world would be a better place with more writers as talented as Alarcón, who can render human suffering so beautifully.” — Philippe Bourgois, author of In Search of Respect: Selling Crack in El Barrio


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Cristian Alarcón is a Chilean author and journalist whose work has appeared in Rolling Stone and other publications. He teaches at the Gabriel García Márquez Foundation for New Latin American Journalism and is the author of Si me querés, quereme transa and Un mar de castillos Peronistas.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Foreword / Javier Auyero and Gabriela Polit-Dueñas  xi
Acknowledgments  xv
Prologue  1
Chapter 1  5
Chapter 2  21
Chapter 3  37
Chapter 4  45
Chapter 5  55
Chapter 6  73
Chapter 7  85
Chapter 8  101
Chapter 9  115
Epilogue  127
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-1-4780-0378-6 / Cloth ISBN: 978-1-4780-0314-4
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