Magazine article World Literature Today

Formas De Volver a Casa

Magazine article World Literature Today

Formas De Volver a Casa

Article excerpt

Alejandro Zambra. Formas de volver a casa. Barcelona. Anagrama. 2011. isbn 9788433972279

Formas de volver a casa, Alejandro Zambra's third novel, is the logical continuation of his two previous works: Bonsái (2006) and La vida privada de los árboles (2007), in which Zambra explored the intimate narrative. The master of a focused and refined style, Zambra attains in this latest novel perhaps his most personal voice, one crafted in simple, unadorned language.

Even so, it is surprising to encounter a Chilean author such as Zambra (b. 1974), who after the great narrative projects of the Boom authors of Latin America has found a way to unite the political with the personal in such an unusual way. Formas de volver a casa constitutes a daring new look at the insipid side of military dictatorship: the story of the children of those parents who lived under the dictatorship; people who were nonpolitical; people for whom the Pinochet government was the nightmare of others, never for themselves.

The novel tells the story of an author who returns to the family home and to his former childhood neighborhood. There he finds Claudia, a former neighbor with whom he had been in love many years before. The reunion with Claudia explains many events from the protagonist's past and how some of these have shaped his life in the present. The novel begins when the author as a child becomes lost and his parents are unable to find him. Getting lost and returning home become a recurring metaphor throughout Zambra's novel: Who are the ones who get lost? Who are the ones who can or know how to return? …

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