The President’s Room is the first book I read from the Argentinian author Ricardo Romero, but it certainly will not be the last. Although it was only 82 pages, it felt like an enormous book. I’m sure every reader will feel the same way. We have got a magical book here!
This is a short and uncanny book. The story takes place in a nameless town in an unnamed country; we do not know where it is, and we don’t know when it is. More precisely, it takes place in a house in this town. In this anonymous country, every home has a room reserved for the president. In this tidy and clean room, there are items that the president can use and might like. The household members do not use this room; they just come in to clean up and put the things they chose for the president.
The narrator of the story is the family’s middle child. This adds a very different atmosphere to the story. Since the narrator is a child, there are no comments about the happenings. But unfortunately, this boy, whose name we do not know, is not a reliable narrator.
The President’s Room, what is it really?
Ricardo Romero wrote a book that may be interpreted as many things. He stated that for him, the president was a mythical creature, but he wrote an open-ended story for the reader. My comment was that the book was purely political at first. I thought it referred to Argentina’s political past. However, when I thought about it a bit more, I considered that the president’s room might have been a religion.
In my opinion, one of the things that are invisible but always felt is religion, and the other is political oppression. This is how I interpreted that every house has a room for the president and that people keep it well maintained, even if they don’t use it. And of course, there is the part about the basements. In that nameless country, houses cannot have basements, it is a rule from long before. We don’t know why. However, as I said, since every reader has their own ghosts, the book will gain different meanings with each reading.
The author, who is compared to Kafka, Calvino and Cortazar, can be an excellent choice for those who want to read a different name from Argentinian literature. If you have a book club, this may be a great choice as there is so much to talk about! Enjoy!
The President’s Room
In a nameless suburb in an equally nameless country, every house has a room reserved for the president. No one knows when or why this came to be. It s simply how things are, and no one seems to question it except for one young boy.
The room is kept clean and tidy, nobody talks about it and nobody is allowed to use it. It is for the president and no one else. But what if he doesn’t come? And what if he does? As events unfold, the reader is kept in the dark about what s really going on. So much so, in fact, that we begin to wonder if even the narrator can be trusted . . .
Ricardo Romero has been compared to Kafka and Italo Calvino, and we see why in this eerie, meditative novel narrated by a shy young boy who seems to be very good at lying about the truth. Following in the footsteps of Julio Cortázar and a certain literary tradition of sinister rooms (such as Dr Jekyll s laboratory), The President’s Room is a mysterious tale based on the suspicion that a house is never just one single home.
Ricardo Romero is an Argentine writer. He was born in Paraná, Entre Ríos, and studied at the Universidad Nacional de Córdoba. Moving to Buenos Aires in 2002, he edited the literary magazine Oliverio from 2003 to 2006. From 2006 to 2010, he was a member of the writers’ collective El Quinteto de la Muerte.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: