The Art of Political Murder is the first non-fiction book from acclaimed novelist Francisco Goldman and is the story of the seven-year investigation into the murder of a Guatemalan Bishop.
Bishop Juan Gerardi, Guatemala’s leading human rights activist, was bludgeoned to death in the garage of his parish house on the evening of Sunday 26 April 1998. This took place just two days after the presentation of a groundbreaking church-sponsored report implicating the military in the murders and disappearances of some two hundred thousand civilians. Realising that it could not rely on police investigators or the legal system to solve the murder and bring those responsible to justice, the church formed its own investigative team, a group of secular young men in their twenties who called themselves ‘Los Intocables’ (the Untouchables). Known in Guatemala as “The Crime of the Century,” the Bishop Gerardi murder case, with its unexpectedly outlandish scenarios and sensational developments, confounded observers and generated extraordinary controversy. For seven years, Francisco Goldman has closely followed Los Intocables’ efforts to uncover the truth; the killing or forced exile of multiple witnesses, judges, and prosecutors; the brave struggle of the church’s legal team; and the efforts of one courageous prosecutor to solve the case and bring the killers to justice.
First appearances were that of a revenge killing, but the official explanation became increasingly bizarre, involving dissolute priests, homosexual liaisons and a geriatric German Shepherd dog as the prime suspect. Los Intocables uncovered a chain of responsibility that led to the President and the Guatemalan authorities whose motivation was to keep the identity of Bishop Gerardi’s killers a secret.
FRANCISCO GOLDMAN’S first novel, The Long Night of White Chickens, won the Sue Kaufman Prize for first fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. The Ordinary Seaman, his second novel, was a finalist for the International IMPAC-Dublin Literary Award. Both novels were finalists for the PEN/Faulkner Award. Goldman’s novel The Divine Husband was published by Atlantic Books in 2006. His work has appeared in the New Yorker, Harper’s, New York Times Magazine, and New York Review of Books. His latest book, The Art of Political Murder (Atlantic 2008), won the 2008 TR Fyvel Freedom of Expression Book Award from the Index on Censorship and was shortlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger for Non-Fiction 2008.