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Austral

Paperback / ISBN-13: 9781529422610

Price: £10.99

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“A tender and thoughtful exploration of the painful irony of being alive and our attempts to make sense of the past as well as the present” KATHARINA VOLCKMER, author of The Appointment

“A reflection on identity, rootlessness and violence – Fonseca’s most ambitious, most complex and most accomplished novel to date” JAVIER CERCAS, author of Soldiers of Salamis


“A beautifully knotted novel which unfolds with every traced layer of its deeply affecting narrative alongside a meditation on memory, mystery and vanishing. Sebaldian in its turns, Austral is a novel of profound questions” GUY GUNARATNE, author of Mister, Mister

A dazzling novel about the traces we leave, the traces we erase and the traces we seek to rebuild.

In this innovative novel three losses and three quests are pursued. English writer Aliza Abravanel tries, in a battle with aphasia, to finish her book. A last indigenous speaker is confronted with the fading of his culture and language while an anthropologist struggles to prevent it. And through the construction of an esoteric theatre of memory, a survivor of the Guatemalan genocide of the 1970s and ’80s seeks to recover the memories lost after the traumas of war. And behind these three threads lies the narrator’s own story: Julio, a disillusioned university professor, must try to understand and complete his friend Aliza’s novel, and come to terms with a past he shared with her but has blanked for thirty years.

From the Guatemalan wilderness to the high Peruvian Amazon, passing through Nueva Germania, the anti-Semitic commune founded in Paraguay by Nietzsche’s sister, Austral takes us on a long journey south, following a trail of ecological and cultural destruction to excavate contemporary xenophobia.

“Reminiscent of the best of Bolaño, Borges and Calvino” Guardian

Translated from the Spanish by Megan McDowell

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Reviews

The young Fonseca, who is someone who creates fictions about archives, masks and ruins, that is to say, someone who knows how to create other ways of thinking, and who is also usually a brilliant and obstinate explorer of abysses, has become one of my favourite writers.
Enrique Vila-Matas
He makes his own the voice of the great metaphysicians of postmodern fiction. His Delphic, conspiratorial aura recalls the paranoid brilliance of Don DeLillo, the cosmopolitan dread of Roberto Bolaño and the imaginative elasticity of Ricardo Piglia.
Dustin Illingworth, New York Times Book Review
Fonseca conceives of fiction writing as a Borgesian garden of forking paths
El periodico
The writing is meticulous, precise, nuanced when necessary, always attentive to the novel's changes of pace
El País
A brilliant enquiry into the archive of memory
El mundo
A tender and thoughtful exploration of the painful irony of being alive and our attempts to make sense of the past as well as the present. Carlos Fonseca has written a book that is like a beautiful maze where we can discover new treasures at each turn.
Katharina Volckmer, author of THE APPOINTMENT
Carlos Fonseca is one of today's most promising Latin American novelists, and Austral - a reflection on identity, rootlessness and violence, written in admirable prose - is his most ambitious, most complex and most accomplished novel to date.
Javier Cercas, author of Soldiers of Salamis
A beautifully knotted novel which unfolds with every traced layer of its deeply affecting narrative along side a meditation on memory, mystery and vanishing. Sebaldian in its turns, Austral is a novel of profound questions.
Guy Gunaratne, author of MISTER, MISTER
In Austral, Fonseca has created a profoundly literary project: to search for the traces of that journey of no return to who we used to be, and to leave a free and joyful record of his unexpected findings discoveries
Alia Trabucco Zerán, author of THE REMAINDER
An exceptional and intricate novel of depth, insight and understanding, translated with great care by Megan McDowell.
Declan O'Driscoll, Irish Times
A multilayered exploration of ideas of belonging, language and erasure that moves from a snowy Ohio campus to the Amazonian jungle and northern Argentine desert . . . [A] masterly voyage of discovery, both physical and intellectual.
Anderson Tepper, New York Times
Chewy but not clotted, expansive and thought-provoking.
John Self, Guardian