Longlisted for the National Book Award for Translated Literature
Longlisted for the Best Translated Book Awards
Space Invaders is the story of a group of childhood friends who, in adulthood, are preoccupied by uneasy memories and visions of their classmate Estrella González Jepsen. In their dreams, they catch glimpses of Estrella’s braids, hear echoes of her voice, and read old letters that eventually, mysteriously, stopped arriving. They recall regimented school assemblies, nationalistic class performances, and a trip to the beach. Soon it becomes clear that Estrella’s father was a ranking government officer implicated in the violent crimes of the Pinochet regime, and the question of what became of her after she left school haunts her erstwhile friends. Growing up, these friends—from her pen pal, Maldonado, to her crush, Riquelme—were old enough to sense the danger and tension that surrounded them, but were powerless in the face of it. They could control only the stories they told one another and the “ghostly green bullets” they fired in the video game they played obsessively.
One of the leading Latin American writers of her generation, Nona Fernández effortlessly builds a choral and constantly shifting image of young life in the waning years of the dictatorship. In her short but intricately layered novel, she summons the collective memory of a generation, rescuing felt truth from the oblivion of official history.
“Taut and evocative, award-winning Chilean author Fernández’s [Space Invaders] shows how a dictatorship works from within to shape lives.”—BBC Culture
“Space Invaders is an absolute gem—a book of uncommon depth, precise in its language, unsparing in its emotion, unflinching as it evokes a past many would prefer to forget. Within the canon of literature chronicling Pinochet’s Chile, Nona Fernández’s Space Invaders is truly unique.”—Daniel Alarcón
“A dark and deceptively playful novel about a generation of Chilean kids who try to understand the terrible country they live in.”—Alejandro Zambra
“Like compatriot Alia Trabucco Zerán's recently published novel The Remainder, Fernández takes a sidelong, subtle approach to the grim realities of life in the Chile of her youth, episodes of which, she suggests, figure in her story. A slender story, impressively economical, that speaks volumes about lives torn by repression.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Fernández’s outstanding novel explores the nature of memory and dreams, and how after a certain point, they become indistinguishable.”—Publishers Weekly