From Carlos Fonseca comes a dazzling novel about legacy, memory, and the desire to know and be known.
Julio is a disillusioned professor of literature, a perpetual wanderer who has spent years away from his home, teaching in the United States. He receives a posthumous summons from an old friend, the writer Aliza Abravanel, to uncover the mysteries within her final novel. Aliza had raced to finish her work as her mind deteriorated. In her manuscript is a series of interconnected accounts of loss, tales that set Julio hurtling on a journey to uncover their true meaning. Austral tracks Julio’s trip from Aliza’s home in an Argentine artists’ colony to a forgotten city in Guatemala, to the Peruvian Amazon, and through Nueva Germania, the antisemitic commune in Paraguay founded by Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche.
A story of mourning and return—to one’s native country, to one’s darkest memories, to oneself—Carlos Fonseca’s Austral interrogates the obsessions and upheavals faced by survivors of a rapidly globalizing world. A treasure map of intertwined experiences, each cleaving its own path through time, the novel is a fascinating investigation into the disappearance of culture and memory and a charting of the furthest limits of what language can do. With this remarkable exploration of the traces we leave behind, those we erase, and how we seek to rebuild, Carlos Fonseca confirms his status as one of the most powerful voices in contemporary Latin American literature.
Carlos Fonseca was born in Costa Rica in 1987, brought up in Puerto Rico and studied in the USA. He was selected by the Hay Festival as part of the Bogotá 39 group (2016), by Granta magazine as one of its list of the twenty-five best young Spanish-language writers (2021) and by Encyclopaedia Britannica as one of the twenty most promising writers in the world for their ‘Young Shapers of the Future’ (2022). His previous novels are Colonel Lágrimas and Natural History, both translated by Megan McDowell. His work has been translated into more than ten languages. He is a lecturer at Cambridge University, where he is a fellow of Trinity College.
Daniel Saldaña París is the author of three novels—Among Strange Victims, Ramifications, and The Dance and the Fire—and a collection of personal essays, Melting Myself. His work has been translated into several languages, and he has been included in Bogota39, a list of the Best Latin American Writers Under 40. The recipient of fellowships and residencies from the Banff Center for the Arts, the Latin American Art Museum of Buenos Aires, Art Omi, and MacDowell, he has been awarded the Eccles Center & Hay Festival Writers Award in the U.K. His latest novel was a finalist for the Herralde Prize in 2021, and in 2022 he was a Cullman Center Fellow at the NYPL.
Ben Brooks came to MCD/FSG after six years teaching and working between Colombia and Brazil. A Fulbright Scholar, writer and editor, his fiction, reviews, and translations have been published in English and Portuguese, and is a regular contributor to GAYLETTER, where he covers books and culture.
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