Ways of Going Home by Alejandro Zambra
A Novel

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...this small novel contains a surprising vastness, created by its structure of alternating chapters of fiction and reality...
-NY Times

Synopsis

Alejandro Zambra's Ways of Going Home begins with an earthquake, seen through the eyes of an unnamed nine-year-old boy who lives in an undistinguished middleclass housing development in a suburb of Santiago, Chile. When the neighbors camp out overnight, the protagonist gets his first glimpse of Claudia, an older girl who asks him to spy on her uncle Raúl.

In the second section, the protagonist is the writer of the story begun in the first section. His father is a man of few words who claims to be apolitical but who quietly sympathized—to what degree, the author isn't sure—with the Pinochet regime. His reflections on the progress of the novel and on his own life—which is strikingly similar to the life of his novel's protagonist—expose the raw suture of fiction and reality.


Ways of Going Home switches between author and character, past and present, reflecting with melancholy and rage on the history of a nation and on a generation born too late—the generation which, as the author-narrator puts it, learned to read and write while their parents became accomplices or victims. It is the most personal novel to date from Zambra, the most important Chilean author since Roberto Bolaño.

 

About Alejandro Zambra

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Alejandro Zambra is a poet, novelist, and literary critic who was born in Santiago, Chile, in 1975. He was selected as one of Granta's Best of Young Spanish-Language Novelists and was elected to the Bogotá39 list and is acclaimed as the greatest writer of Chile's younger generation. He is also the author of Ways of Going Home and The Private Lives of Trees. Translator CAROLINA DE ROBERTIS was raised in England, Switzerland, and California by Uruguayan parents. Her fiction and literary translations have appeared in ColorLines, The Virginia Quarterly Review, The Indiana Review, and elsewhere. She is the author of The Invisible Mountain and Perla.
 
Published January 8, 2013 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 161 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction
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Critic reviews for Ways of Going Home
All: 3 | Positive: 2 | Negative: 1

NY Times

Excellent
Reviewed by Adam Thirlwell on Mar 29 2013

...this small novel contains a surprising vastness, created by its structure of alternating chapters of fiction and reality...

Read Full Review of Ways of Going Home: A Novel | See more reviews from NY Times

Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Mina Holland on Jan 13 2013

Ways of Going Home, Zambra's third novel, is both a literary and meta-literary foray into Chile's troubled past by a writer who lived during the Pinochet regime but who doesn't consider himself one of its primary victims.

Read Full Review of Ways of Going Home: A Novel | See more reviews from Guardian

AV Club

Below average
Reviewed by Eric Thurm on Feb 25 2013

The nonlinear, kaleidoscopic quality of Ways Of Going Home seems like an attempt to translate the unique virtues of poetry into prose, a challenge Zambra doesn’t quite meet.

Read Full Review of Ways of Going Home: A Novel | See more reviews from AV Club

Reader Rating for Ways of Going Home
75%

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