Octavio's Journey is a novella about an illiterate giant of a man named (you guessed it) Octavio. I've been told that it's also an allegorical history of Venezuela, but I don't know enough about the history of that country to comment on that point. So I just enjoyed it as the story of one man's development, adventures, and eventual end, although he really doesn't end. There's a healthy dose of magic realism throughout the story.
Octavio is illiterate and so ashamed of it that he cuts his hand to cover his inability to write. He's quite strong and does odd jobs to make a bit of money. Eventually he meets a woman who teaches him to read and write a bit. Then he falls in with a group of thieves who work out of an abandoned church. He doesn't work with them. He just takes care of things in the building until he's pressed into service to rob the very woman who's taught him. At this point he leaves town and begins his adventures.
Beautifully written (kudos to the translator) and engrossing, Octavio's Journey can be enjoyed on the simple level of a good and magical story or (if you know enough history) as allegory. If you're looking for something very different, this could be it.