Before America’s 9-11, there was Chile’s: September 11 marks the 30th anniversary of the U.S.-backed coup that toppled freely elected president Salvador Allende. Three recent releases offer fresh perspectives on Augusto Pinochet’s 17-year regime and its aftermath.


By Peter Kornbluh

(New Press)

That the coup bears the CIA’s and Kissinger’s fingerprints is old news to Hitchens groupies. What Kornbluh reveals—cataloging 24,000 declassified documents—is the extent of U.S. involvement: covert ops to prevent Allende’s election, to destabilize his administration, and to aid Pinochet’s secret police.


By Ana María del Río

(Overlook Duckworth)

Under Pinochet, writers used allegory to avoid censorship, or worse. In Rust, two half-siblings must hide their incestuous desire from malevolent Aunt Malva, who rules their informant-infested house with Bernarda Alba-esque implacability. Del Río’s house-as-metaphor skirted the censors in 1986, yet still captures the era’s repressive, paranoid atmosphere.


By Ariel Dorfman

(Dalkey Archive)

Even after Chile’s transition back to democracy, political allegory is exile Dorfman’s specialty. In 1995’s Konfidenz, a foreign woman from an unnamed dictatorship enters a Paris hotel room just as the phone rings. A man on the other end says her lover, who may be involved in the resistance, is in danger. Spare and dialogue-heavy, this tale of suspicion and betrayal might have made for a Dorfman play, were it not for an unseen observer. Is the man conning the woman or vice versa? Or is her lover duping them both? Trust no one, Dorfman says, hinting that perhaps he’s the real con man, and we’re his victims.