Editorial Review: A Scarcity of Condors by Suanne Laqueur
A Scarcity of Condors follows the story of Jude Tholet through life, death, and the mixed bag of highs and tragedies in between.
Life was never easy for the Tholet family. With the patriarch surviving imprisonment under Pinochet, fleeing under refugee status, and Jude, the target of a hate crime that forced the family to move.
Jude knew from a young age that his father’s life-long injuries were caused by a vicious beating, but he was only seventeen when his own attack changed his life. The attack on Jude and his boyfriend, Feño, and the ensuing legal and social pressures, forced the Tholet family across the US border to Seattle.
Twenty years later, Jude attends Feño’s funeral. After a harrowing afternoon, revisiting the scene of the crime, Jude makes the internal decision to move past the attack and let family be his focus. Things get more complicated when a DNA test kit reveals that Jude is not biologically related to his family. This news sends Jude into a spiral, he storms out of his parents’ home and allows himself to be picked up by a flashy and forward guy who ends up being a major support for Jude as his identity falls away piece by piece.
The story explores the journey to find out who Jude is, how he came to be raised by Penny and Cleon who thought him to be their son, and who the rest of his biological family is, in meticulous detail. It is these details that make this book what it is.
The experience of the Tholet family, while fictional, is representational of the real experiences of many Chileans who can only trace their disappeared loved ones through DNA analysis. The imprisonment and torture of Cleon Tholet, Jude’s father, at the Villa Grimaldi compound was created directly from real testimonials. The hate crime that drove the family from their home is a daily reality for people in the LGBTIA community. The reason A Scarcity of Condors hits so hard is because of this reflection of reality. What Suanne Laqueur has done with these realities is remarkable, she shows how trauma – generational, inherited, personal – infiltrates every aspect of life.
To call A Scarcity of Condors an emotional experience is an understatement of the immensity of this story, and sell short the importance of stories like it.
Impeccably researched, beautifully written, and heart-breaking on a visceral level, A Scarcity of Condors demands the reader’s attention.