Peru, the 90's:a historical romance from U. S. and native points of view.In settings travelers will recognize as authentic,Ruth and Tobias is traditional in having romantic and terrorist episodes–newly traditional.After a U. S. senator is kidnaped and his sons receive death threats, Tobias, the senator’s oldest son, travels in disguise to South America.In a hostal in Arequipa, Peru, a Milquetoast compatriot, amateur historian, and expert botanist takes a prying interest in Tobias as he attempts to pass himself off as an archaeologist – the first of a series of unexpected meetings for Tobias as he struggles to maintain his disguise.
This historical romance features interrelations among characters, distinguished by the verve with which Peruvians live their lives and by the professionalism that earmarks the characters from the U. S.The interplay among the Peruvian and the U. S. characters seems like comic opera, except for the consequences. Zárate, an archaeologist trained in Moscow and a professor at the state university at Arequipa, exercises his anti-Americanism against the masquerading Tobias.Tobias is helped by Ruth, an anthropologist writing a thesis on fetishes.In turn, Ruth is helped by Joyce, a mestizo secretary.And so on.
Ruth and Tobias features the voices, the perspectives, the expectations of a spectrum of personalities from strikingly dissimilar material circumstances and ethnic origins.In addition to Zárate and Joyce,the Peruvian characters include a hostal manager, a housewife, a vamp, a hacienda owner, university students ranging from highland native to urban opportunist, a handful of teenage terrorists, and an Andean dog.In addition to Tobias and Ruth, the North American characters include a musicologist, a biologist, and an archaeologist from a private and privileged college in the Middle West.The interaction among north and south Americans and among male and female reflects worlds wildly dissimilar in experience and expectation.Radical adjustments to sudden changes in circumstance are imperative.Neither Peruvians nor North Americans are free from sentiment and illusion.
Scenes in Ruth and Tobiasinclude a river in flood, a mudslide, an archaeological expedition designed to test the mettle of someone hoping to pass himself off as what he is not, a seduction, a street demonstration, an “edenic retreat,” an effort at a purification rite.