Book details


A Novel

Author: Carlos Fonseca; Translated from the Spanish by Megan McDowell




About This Book

From Carlos Fonseca comes a dazzling novel about legacy, memory, and the desire to know and be known.

Julio is a disillusioned professor of literature, a perpetual wanderer...

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Book Details

From Carlos Fonseca comes a dazzling novel about legacy, memory, and the desire to know and be known.

Julio is a disillusioned professor of literature, a perpetual wanderer who has spent years away from his home, teaching in the United States. He receives a posthumous summons from an old friend, the writer Aliza Abravanel, to uncover the mysteries within her final novel. Aliza had raced to finish her work as her mind deteriorated. In her manuscript is a series of interconnected accounts of loss, tales that set Julio hurtling on a journey to uncover their true meaning. Austral tracks Julio’s trip from Aliza’s home in an Argentine artists’ colony to a forgotten city in Guatemala, to the Peruvian Amazon, and through Nueva Germania, the antisemitic commune in Paraguay founded by Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche.

A story of mourning and return—to one’s native country, to one’s darkest memories, to oneself—Carlos Fonseca’s Austral interrogates the obsessions and upheavals faced by survivors of a rapidly globalizing world. A treasure map of intertwined experiences, each cleaving its own path through time, the novel is a fascinating investigation into the disappearance of culture and memory and a charting of the furthest limits of what language can do. With this remarkable exploration of the traces we leave behind, those we erase, and how we seek to rebuild, Carlos Fonseca confirms his status as one of the most powerful voices in contemporary Latin American literature.

Imprint Publisher

Farrar, Straus and Giroux



In The News

Austral is a masterly voyage of discovery, both physical and intellectual."
—Anderson Tepper, The New York Times Book Review

Austral is just a wonderful book. It really spoke to me as someone who has somewhat recently returned to a place and a culture that I left several decades before. Not everyone will have that exact experience, but when you can, obviously that’s kind of a magical thing.”
—June Thomas, Slate

“An exceptional and intricate novel of depth, insight and understanding, translated with great care by Megan McDowell.”
—Declain O’Driscoll, Irish Times

“Expansive and thought-provoking.”
—John Self, The Guardian

Austral reaches across time and space to craft a unique literary environment complete with eccentric characters and grand schemes that gradually reveal the secret of their connections.”
—Joseph Schreiber, Rough Ghosts

“The themes of Austral are familiar ones—language, communication, love—but in this novel they find a particular subtlety and poignance.”
—Jessica Sequiera, The Rumpus

“An intricate mosaic, a chronicle of human experience.”
—Esperanza Hope Snyder, On The Seawall

“The protagonists of this sweeping novel strive to piece together the past in all its cruelty to better understand themselves and whence they came. Austral juxtaposes beautifully the search for truth and the artistic process in a depiction that makes one indistinguishable from the other. With great sensitivity, Carlos Fonseca captures the sense of dislocation that comes to define anyone who has ever been displaced.”
—Alejandro Varela, author of The Town of Babylon

“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

Austral is 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

“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

"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 Even the Darkest Night

"[A] tour de force."

"As a study of the confusions of history and the challenge of language to get the story right, it’s an admirably complex, intellectually searching work."
Kirkus Reviews

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