Manuel Vilas, Andrea Rosenberg
‘A book of deep reckoning’ New York Times
‘Becomes a way of looking honestly at what mourning really feels like’ Guardian
A man in tumult returns to Ordesa, the small mountain town where he was born, and where his parents have recently died. He sits down to write. Newly sober, his career on the wane, his relationship with his own children strained, what he produces is a dizzying chronicle of his childhood and an unsparing account of his life’s trials, failures and triumphs. He reckons with the ghosts of his parents, the pain of loss and, as the pages fill with words, he tries to piece together the bits of himself. What is a person without a family? What is a person when faced with memories alone?
An autobiographical novel by a Spanish literary icon, written with the intimacy of a diary, Ordesa is a beautiful, redemptive meditation on identity, grief and the passing of time.
A meditation on yearning, solitude and family . . . A book of deep reckoning - of the meaningful and mundane - but written with an airy, even whimsical touch . . . Radiantly evokes both a golden age and its slow deterioration * * New York Times * * Vilas paints an affecting portrait of a middle-aged man alone - divorced, estranged from his children, his parents deceased - and attempting to chronicle his childhood. A persistent sense of longing for that which is lost pervades the book, making it feel particularly fitting this year * * Vanity Fair * * The narrator of this sober yet elegant autobiographical novel is a middle-aged man reckoning with his past and with his encroaching mortality. Painfully observant and poetically inclined * * New Yorker * * Ordesa is a smack in the chops and a swim in the sea, a desolate memento mori and a warm, consoling hug . . . There is so much love in this book, for life and for language, that it bursts the seams even in translation. If you're remotely responsive to this, it will make a holy mess of you * * Herald * * Vilas has written a book that is soaked through with humanity. An intimate, comforting, painful and deeply beautiful tour de force. He is an enhancer of life -- JAMES RHODES author of INSTRUMENTAL One of Spain's finest modern writers . . . [Ordesa] offers a humane and intimate account of his divorce, family problems, and addictions * * Independent, Books of the Month * * Ordesa is a poet's novel, or maybe a novelist's prose poem. It's both things at once, and also the saddest and most candid autobiography I've read in recent times. I've been through this book twice and I still don't know how Vilas does it. I know, however, that this book is a gift, and maybe that's enough -- JUAN GABRIEL VASQUEZ, author of THE SHAPE OF THE RUINS Becomes a way of looking honestly at what mourning really feels like - some of [Vilas'] observations on grief, along with the self-hatred and guilt that can follow a death, will strike a chord with anyone who has experienced a similar rupture -- Lucy Ellmann * * Guardian * * A philosophically brave and emotionally-intelligent novel par excellence. There is rigour in the thought and deep scrutiny in the lyrical musings and reflections, which make it surely a classic which has sought no easy route to the reader's soul * * RTE * * This is the album, the archive, the memory without lies or consolation of a life, a time, a family, a social class condemned to so much effort for very little obtained. A lot of precision is needed to tell these things, the acid, the sharpened knife, the exact needle to burst the balloon of vanity. What's left in the end is the clean emotion of truth and the distress of everything lost -- ANTONIO MUNOZ MOLINA author of the Man Booker International Prize-shortlisted LIKE A FADING SHADOW
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