The Painter of Battles

The vivid images coming from Egypt, Iran, Algeria,  and the recurrent reporting of violence in Afghanistan and Iraq  brings to mind a novel I had read a year ago, The Painter of Battles by Arturo Perez-Reverte.  Reverte, himself a former war photographer ( 35mm film and camera), was a photo-journalist in Angola, Bosnia, Croatia, Lebanon and the Persian Gulf.

Reverte’s  The Painter of Battles is a story of a world-renowned war photographer , Andres’ Falques, who has become internationally famous from the publication of his photos depicting the horror of war.  Images of individuals in despair, pain, sorrow and death. He retires to the coast of Spain and  becomes obsessed with  painting a huge mural of the images he has captured including the death by a land mine of a beautiful and young colleague who was his only love.

Enter Ivo Markovic,  a soldier long thought  dead .  A Falques photograph  of Markovic in the agony of battle had won awards and made Falques rich and world-renowned.  This un-expected visitor, whose only mission is to kill Falques , brings an astonishing  perspective of the subjects of those photographed in battle. A riveting relatively short novel with a compelling message. It is worth every minute especially considering the recent travails of  reporters including Laura Logan and Anderson Cooper.

Arturo Perez-Reverte also wrote The Club Dumas and The Queen of the South.

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