Diane Nelson’s previous book, Finger in the Wound: Body Politics in Quincentennial Gua-temala, was a masterpiece: an evocative and frighteningly insightful discussion of the multiplicity and fluidity of identity in Guatemala. In that book, her propensity to explore the difficulty of fixing a meaning to words was an essential aspect of her exploration of the slipperiness of identity in Guatemala as the country struggled away from war.

Given the brilliance of the first book, any subsequent work would almost certainly disappoint in comparison. Reckoning treads similar ground. This book, too, explores complexity and duplicity in contemporary Guatemala since the peace accords signed in 1996. This work also employs Nelson’s keen eye, empathetic ear, wonderful informants, and deep knowledge of contemporary Guatemala to offer us images of a society that is never quite what it seems. In this book as well, language and...

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