The OF Blog: Jorge Volpi's latest novel, El jardín devastado

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Jorge Volpi's latest novel, El jardín devastado

While I was planning on waiting until the Thanksgiving holiday break to write a longer feature on Mexican author Jorge Volpi, I couldn't resist sharing a few things related to his most recent novel, the just-released El jardín devastado.  My hardcover copy arrived today and I am quite eager to read this, as his 2006 novel, No será la cae bien, más o menos. ;)  And that's leaving out his most famous work to be translated into English so far, In Search of Klingsor (En busca de Klingsor), which touches upon certain scientists, some Nazism, and a few mysteries of a near quantum level.  Below is a brief review I read on Críticas (in English):

Short as it is, this extraordinarily developed novel by the ever intriguing Mexican author Volpi [En busca de Klingsor, (Looking for Klingsor)] packs an expansive cultural and temporal punch. It transports readers among Iraq, Mexico, and various university towns of the Eastern seaboard where the semiautobiographical narrator finds himself exiled, all the while moving between the real and abstract spiritual realms. The focus here is on women, both passing lovers and memorable obsessions, among them two more thoroughly examined characters—one Mexican, one Iraqi—whose development on the way to the book’s disturbing and thought-provoking climax is traced via micro-chapters (as brief as a sentence) throughout the narrative. Volpi’s distinctive global perspective informs this book, as it does so much of his work, and he leaves us to draw our own connections between seemingly disconnected episodes. Pointed criticisms of U.S. policies in Iraq, the behavior of soldiers there, the aftermath of 9/11, and electoral anomalies in Mexico all find their way into the story, which is largely about trying to come to grips with neck-snapping current events. Infused with aphorisms faintly reminiscent of Khalil Gibran, this work distills its text and part of its title from a 100-entry daily blog that the author maintained earlier this year. The book design, by Eduardo Téllez, uses Arabic letters and script to enhance the ambience. By turns cryptic, philosophical, and even poetic, this novel marks an interesting departure for a challenging writer. Recommended for libraries and bookstores serving readers of serious experimental fiction.
But what about those fortunate few here among us who really want to read Volpi's work, who love Gibran, who just want to learn more about it for free?

Well, you're in luck.  Volpi created a blog specifically for this novel.  Go check it out.

Excuse me, but I have some reading to do now.  I have to determine whether or not this short novel will make my year-end discussion of the best books of 2008.


theCardinal said...

thanks so much for the heads up. I was waiting for it to come out. By the way I also enjoyed "El fin de la locura"

Larry said...

Cool! Glad to have made you aware of his latest. As for El fin de la locura, I placed an order for it a week or so ago and it should arrive any day now. I've read three of Volpi's books now and each of them is excellent, even though none are alike in story structure.

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