Translation Spotlight

Article by mark

Of the many books I remember buying from my days as a Brazos customer, the one that distinctly stands out is Santiago Gamboa’s NECROPOLIS. Gamboa was a new name for me at the time, but I instantly relished the wisdom of my purchase. NECROPOLIS wasn’t a book that I liked; it was a book that I loved. Organized like a Russian nesting doll, the many stories contained inside the novel—which all take place inside a hotel in Jerusalem—were smart, worldly, and written with a narrative verve characteristic of Roberto Bolaño (think 2666 with a lot less murder). NECROPOLIS blew me away, and I waited impatiently for his next book to be translated.

Now Europa Editions has published NIGHT PRAYERS, Gamboa’s second novel in English, and it’s a triumph. The story is told from two perspectives: a young Colombian philosophy student accused of drug trafficking in Bangkok, and his lawyer, another Columbian living in New Delhi. The chapters alternate between both perspectives, and the texture of the story is rich and rewarding. From the trials of growing up in Columbia with its turbulent politics, to the sweaty streets of Thailand, NIGHT PRAYERS is awash with scenes that are palpable.

Howard Curtis has translated both Gamboa’s novels into English, and he does an exceptional job rendering his Spanish into lucid and exciting language. NIGHT PRAYERS is deft and literary but also readable. The different plot strands are a pleasure to navigate and the major locations—Bogota, New Delhi, Tokyo, and Bangkok—give the reader a sense of dislocation, much like the characters. Sibling devotion, the world of high-end escorts, and Colombian politics intertwine seamlessly. Brilliantly translated, NIGHT PRAYERS is an incredible reading experience with a pounding heart and wisdom to boot.

Night Prayers Cover Image
By Santiago Gamboa, Howard Curtis (Translated by)
ISBN: 9781609453114
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Europa Editions - March 1st, 2016

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