Simpatía is set in the Venezuela of Nicolas Maduro amid a mass exodus of the intellectual class who have been leaving their pets behind. Ulises Kan, the protagonist and a movie buff, receives a text message from his wife, Paulina, saying she is leaving the country (and him). Ulises is not heartbroken but liberated by Paulina's departure. Two other events end up disrupting his life even further: the return of Nadine, an unrequited love from the past, and the death of his father-in-law, General Martín Ayala. Thanks to Ayala’s will, Ulises discovers that he has been entrusted with a mission—to transform Los Argonautas, the great family home, into a shelter for abandoned dogs. If he manages to do it in time, he will inherit the luxurious apartment that he had shared with Paulina.
This novel centers on themes of family and orphanhood in order to address the abuse of power by a patrilineage of political figures in Latin America, from Simón Bolívar to Hugo Chávez. The untranslatable title, Simpatía, which means both sympathy and charm, ironically references the qualities these political figures share. In a morally bankrupt society, where all human ties seem to have dissolved, Ulises is like a stray dog picking up scraps of sympathy. Can you really know who you love? What is, in essence, a family? Are abandoned dogs proof of the existence or non-existence of God? Ulises unknowingly embodies these questions, as a pilgrim of affection in a post-love era.
“In his latest novel, Rodrigo Blanco Calderón continues his investigation, initiated in The Night, into what literature can say about the floundering of Venezuela, this time, through the plight of stray dogs and the love they spur in various orphan characters.” —Jorge Carrión
“The latest novel by the Venezuelan writer Rodrigo Blanco Calderón reestablishes him as one of the most promising contemporary Ibero-American prose writers, and consolidates him as an indisputable figure within the prolific panorama of twenty-first century fiction.” —Letralia