Target in the Night


By Ricardo Piglia
Translated from the Spanish by Sergio Waisman 

Winner of the International Romulo Gallegos Novel Prize and National Critics Prize in 2011 and chosen as the best novel in Spanish in 2010, Target in the Night marks the pinnacle of Argentine maestro Ricardo Piglia’s remarkable literary career.

“Ricardo Piglia may be the best Latin American writer to have appeared since the heyday of Gabriel García Márquez.” — Kirkus Review

Paperback: 9781941920169
Ebook: 9781941920176

Published: November 10, 2015



Hailed as a modern classic immediately upon publication, Target in the Night is a passionate, politically-charged thriller in which the madness of the detective Croce, a retired police captain, is integral to solving mysteries. In this novel he is dispatched to solve the mysterious murder of Toni Durán, a Puerto Rican living in New York, who arrived in this remote corner of the Pampas in Buenos Aires Province with a flamboyant air, scandalously accompanying the town’s beautiful Belladonna twin sisters. Emilio Renzi, a journalist from a Buenos Aires newspaper who appears in most of Piglia’s work as the author’s own alter ego, is sent to the countryside to cover the story. The investigation and reporting uncover a series of hidden tales that are gradually exposed to reveal an intense and tragic family history with echoes of King Lear.

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Tony Durán was an adventurer and a professional gambler who saw his opportunity to win the big casino when he met the Belladona sisters. It was a ménage à trois that scandalized the town and stayed on everyone’s mind for months. He’d show up with one of the two sisters at the restaurant of the Plaza Hotel, but no one could ever tell with which because the twins were so alike that even their handwriting was indistinguishable. Tony was almost never seen with both at the same time; that was something he kept private. What really shocked everyone was the thought of the twins sleeping together. Not so much that they would share the same man, but that they would share each other.

Soon the rumors turned into stories and elaborate tales, and before long no one could talk about anything else. People went on about it throughout the day—in their homes, or at the Social Club, or at Madariaga’s Store and Tavern. Everyone had a detail to add, commenting as easily as if they were talking about the weather.

In that town, like in all the towns in the Province of Buenos Aires, more news was batted around in a single day than in any large city in a week. The difference between regional and national news was so vast that the residents could retain the illusion that they lived an interesting life. Durán had come to enrich that mythology, and his figure reached legendary heights long before the time of his death.

You could take Tony’s comings and goings through the town and draw a map from them. An outsider’s ramblings along the elevated sidewalks, his walks to the outskirts of the abandoned factory and the deserted fields. He deciphered the order and hierarchies of the place in short order. The dwellings and houses stand clearly divided according to the social level of the inhabitants. The territory seems to have been drawn by a snobbish cartographer. The wealthy live at the top of the hill, and in a circle of about eight blocks is the so-called historical center of town, which includes the square, the town hall, the church and the main street with the stores and the two-story houses. Finally, sloping down on the other side of the railroad tracks, are the poorer neighborhoods where over half of the darker-skinned population lives and dies.

Tony’s popularity and the envy he aroused among the men could have led to anything. But in the end his downfall was simply a matter of chance, which is what had brought him here in the first place. It was incredible to see such an elegant mulatto in that town full of Basques and Piedmontese gauchos, a man who spoke Spanish with a Caribbean accent but looked as if he came from the province of Corrientes or from Paraguay, a mysterious foreigner lost in a lost town in the middle of the pampas.


Winner of the 2011 Rómulo Gallegos Novel Prize

Winner of the National Critics Circle Prize, 2011

Chosen as the best novel in Spanish in 2010 By 55 critics and journalists of El País.

Piglia was recipient of the 2015 Formentor Prize for a lifetime contribution to literature


One of the BBC’s Ten Books to Read (December 2015)

“Ricardo Piglia may be the best Latin American writer to have appeared since the heyday of Gabriel García Márquez.” — Kirkus Review

“Piglia opens a window into a fascinating world, leaving the reader hungry for more.” — Publishers Weekly

“”Piglia’s postmodern, brainy and sometimes funny take on the detective thriller, and it’s an absolute joy to read . . . nothing in Target in the Night is anything less than original — it works both as a clever detective novel and a surprising meditation on the complications of families and the way justice works in the modern world.” — Michael Schaub, NPR

“A paranoid marvel . . . unlike any detective novel you’ve read . . . Target in the Night challenges the philosophical merit of a story whose mysteries can be succinctly concluded. It posits that a fear of death, and a fear of embracing a world where hard truth and meaning are nothing more than abstract, idealistic concepts, propels us to reconstruct the past and impose them where they don’t exist, warping that past beyond recognition. Reality cannot be conformed to an easy, coherent narrative, and the more we try, the further submerged into darkness we become.” — Caroline North, Dallas Observer

Target in the Night is as much a historical novel as it is a detective novel; the author uses genre as a convenient package from which to break into a conversation about pressing matters of today.” — Olga Zilberbourg, The Common

“Piglia demonstrates perfect mastery of his art. Nothing is there just for the sake of it.” — El País

“Ricardo Piglia is an extremely important literary figure. He has inherited Borges’ quizzical intelligence, enthusiasm for the tireless exploration of literature and attraction to hidden depths. Piglia’s fictions trace inventive parabolas over the past nightmarish events of his country.” — The Independent

“Ricardo Piglia, the rebel classic” — J.A. Masoliver Rodenas, La Vanguardia

“One of the sharpest minds on the latino-hispanic-american scene today. not just in Argentina.” — El Cultural

“A detective story and the work of a writer the likes of which we haven’t seen since the great days of the early French noir writers.” — Jeffrey Mannix, The Durango Telegraph