The Silentiary takes place in a nameless Latin American city during the early 1950s. A young man employed in mid-level management entertains an ambition to write a book of some sort. But first he must establish the necessary precondition, which the crowded and noisily industrialized city always denies him, however often he and his mother and wife move in search of it. He thinks of embarking on his writing career with something simple, a detective novel, and ponders the possibility of choosing a victim among the people he knows and planning a crime as if he himself were the killer. That way, he hopes, his book might finally begin to take shape.
This is the second of the three novels by Antonio Di Benedetto that have come to be known as the Trilogy of Expectation, after the dedication “To the victims of expectation” in the first volume, Zama. Together these three works constitute, in Juan José Saer’s words, “one of the culminating moments of twentieth-century narrative fiction in Spanish.”