Spanish-Language Fiction

Article by mark

There’s something ineffable about Spanish-language fiction that has always drawn me to it, although, at least on the surface, it is nothing if not diverse. Latin American prose abounds with dreamscapes, cities, and jungles; it engages with philosophical ideas, the rhetoric of revolution, and the common speech of everyday people. These authors have produced enormous, expansive novels and diminutive novellas, and employ traditional storytelling as well as experimental, genre-defying prose. There is no simple way to summarize the variety of styles, voices and ideas that these authors explore. What I can tell you is that now is an exciting moment for Spanish-language literature, and a great time for you to give it a try! -Mark

The Savage Detectives Cover Image
By Roberto Bolano, Natasha Wimmer (Translator)
$19.00
ISBN: 9780312427481
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Picador USA - March 4th, 2008

Roberto Bolano’s THE SAVAGE DETECTIVES is a continent-, decade-, and genre-hopping novel that follows the winding trail of Arturo Belano and Ulises Lima, ‘two latter-day Quixotes’ on a literary, spiritual and social quest. There’s drinking, drugs, and all-night rooftop debates about the importance of poetry amid the lights of decadent 1970s Mexico City. There is humor, and digression, and idealism. And there is, of course, the language: Bolano’s command of the story is magnificent and bristling with life. The novel captures the optimism of youth as well as the disillusionment that settles in when dreams collapse. A modern classic.


Varamo Cover Image
By Cesar Aira, Chris Andrews (Translator)
$12.95
ISBN: 9780811217415
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: New Directions Publishing Corporation - February 22nd, 2012

Bolano was a huge fan of Cesar Aira, an Argentine writer whose short, playful experimental novels number in the seventies. Aira is clearly unafraid to dabble in the surreal: in his novels you shouldn’t be surprised to encounter a seamstress floating over the Pampas or a German artist struck by lightning and dragged by his horse across the plains. His most recent novel translated into English, THE HARE, focuses on a British naturalist who searches the Pampas of Argentina for a mythical rabbit that supposedly flies. Aira is unafraid to improvise and, though his novels begin realistically, they often soon take off in absurd and profound directions.


The Adventures and Misadventures of Maqroll Cover Image
By Alvaro Mutis, Francisco Goldman (Introduction by), Edith Grossman (Translator)
$22.95
ISBN: 9780940322912
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: New York Review of Books - February 1st, 2002

Whose literary stature in Columbia could possibly equal that of Gabriel Garcia Marquez? One contender is his lifelong friend Alvaro Mutis, whose seven interconnected novellas, collected in THE ADVENTURES AND MISADVENTURES OF MAQROLL, is a masterpiece of narrative fiction. The English translation has, as John Updike said, “the supple heft of a newborn classic”. Maqroll is a wanderer and adventurer who is continually conjuring plots to make money that almost always fail, save the life lessons he learns in the process. The stories take place everywhere: Panama City, the Middle East, even the United States.. Think of Mutis as a Latin American Joseph Conrad.


Down the Rabbit Hole Cover Image
$12.00
ISBN: 9780374143350
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Farrar Straus Giroux - October 2nd, 2012

What is it like to be the son of a Mexican drug lord? Just ask Tochtli, the young narrator of DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE. Tochtli is accustomed to getting everything he wants, including hats, guillotines and dictionaries. When Tochtli sets his heart on a pygmy hippopotamus, there’s nothing his father won’t do to appease his son. The novel shows how quickly children can be desensitized to the violence and corruption that surrounds them. Coming in at just 70 pages, DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE is a brilliant little morsel of dark humor that can be read in a sitting and will stick with you long after.


The Infatuations Cover Image
$26.95
ISBN: 9780307960726
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Knopf Publishing Group - August 13th, 2013

A philosophical novel full of suspense and intrigue, THE INFATUATIONS heralds the return of Spanish author Javier Marias. Cerebral and full of asides, yet immensely readable, this novel is one of my favorites of the year. The story is told by Maria, a Madrid woman who thinks she understands a couple she’s been quietly observing in a cafe for years. However, when the husband is brutally murdered, Maria is drawn further into the riddle of the couple’s life together, ultimately reminding us that we never truly know - or understand - anyone. Marias’ name is frequently mentioned as a contender for the Nobel Prize and this novel will show you why.


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