A month or so ago I commented on (more or less) recently published Latino literature—a list neither exhaustive nor (as should have been obvious) well-defined.
An unforeseen and wonderful by-product of my nod to Spanish American cultures was the correspondence I received apprising me of books I had overlooked or that were shortly forthcoming.So, here’s a half dozen titles for your delectation:
The Neruda Case -Roberto Ampuero (Riverhead)
Caroline De Robertis, translator of fellow Chilean Ampuerto’s novel suggests, “The Neruda Case is more warm-blooded satire than dark grit. It is full of humor and exuberance, a wry take on noir tropes that celebrates and subverts them at the same time. That said, there is a seriousness to the book as well. The reader can viscerally feel the author’s complicated love for Neruda—not only the poet, but also the flawed man. And the book is deeply concerned with sociopolitical themes, painting a vivid portrait of Latin America in the turbulent 1970s.”
Almost Never- Daniel Sada, Translation by Karen Silver (Graywolf)
Roberto Bolano said of Sada, “Of my generation I most admire Daniel Sada, who writing project seems to me the most daring.” A trait put to good use as the story of Demetrio Sordo unfolds— its 1945 and Sordo works on a ranch near Oaxaca [Mexico]. Sordo, the protagonist takes up with a prostitute a pretext that is fertile ground for his shrewd lampoon of machismo. Franciso Goldman opines:
Daniel Sada’s works were a polyphonic parade of voices, a Mexican cacophony: shouts, laughter, violence, lewd curses, sweet whispers, song. Sada is to Juan Rulfo what Beckett was to Joyce, only inverted. Beckett’s minimalism was his response to Joyce’s unsurpassable maximalism. Sada’s maximalism was his response to Rulfo’s unsurpassable minimalism. The amazing, sexy, gritty, relentless Almost Never, wonderfully translated by Katherine Silver, at last introduces English-language readers to the one contemporary Mexican writer regarded with reverence throughout the world.
Perla -Caroline de Robertis (Knopf)
I have mentioned de Robertis’s novel previously, here
Oblivion- Héctor Abad , Anne McLean (Translator), Rosalind Harvey (Translator (FSG)
Columbian novelist Hector Abad pens a memoir in remembrance of his doctor /activist father who was murdered in 1987 by rightwing paramilitaries. The title is taken from a Borges poem that Abad senior referenced on the morning of his death, “Already we are the oblivion we shall be.”
You can read an excerpt here
The Absent Sea by Carlos Franz translated by Leland Chambers(McPherson & co)
Bruce McPherson who publishes some splendid books (including recent National Book Award winner Jamey Gordon’s Lords of Misrule) apprised me of my failure to note Chilean novelist Carlos Franz’s novel The Absent Sea. which was published last year. Of course , in sympathy with the quixotic task he shoulders publishing quality fiction, I didn’t point out that other than a narrow slice of literary sites, I wasn’t going to be made aware of this tome’s existence (unless he did so). And one of those venues has an excellent notice on this post 1973 Chilean coup novel.
…The Absent Sea is a dense and multi-layered examination of Chile’s recent past, an examination of historical memory and the complicities (and atrocities) of the Pinochet dictatorship that Mario Vargas Llosa has called “an investigation into the depths of both human cruelty and compassion” and “one of the most original novels that modern Latin American literature has produced.” The book focuses on Laura Larco, a Chilean exile and former judge, who returns from Berlin to Pampa Hundida, Franz’s fictional town in the Atacama Desert, to confront her past and answer her grown daughter’s probing question: “Where were you, Mamá, when all those horrible things were happening in your city?”
Cubop City Blues -Pablo Medina (Grove)
Poet, novelist and Emerson College mentor Pablo Medina gives us a singular protagonist, nearly blind and sheltered, The Storyteller— who cares for his sick parents by telling them stories he fashions of the whole cloth of his vivid imagination and prodigious reading. His tales feature real life characters such as Chano Pozo and Jelly Roll Morton was well as ones he has invented. Set in a Manhattan like metropolis, the pulsating background of Afro Latin infuses this narrative with a contagious vivacity.
Orientation: And Other Stories -Daniel Orozco (FSG)
Idaho author Daniel Orozco’s short story collection, Orientation titled after the lead story, was a decade in the making and you can read and hear a reading of that story here.
Need I say more?
Currently reading The Thing About Thugs by Tabish Khair (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)