SDR Book of the Week: Ways of Going Home

Ways of Going HomeWays of Going Home, by Alejandro Zambra. Translated from Spanish by Megan McDowell. Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 139 pp. $24

It’s been a while since I read a piece of international fiction, but this year (especially for the Reporter) I wanted to expand my horizon. This year, instead of going for my usual literary fiction with a side of memoir, I nibbled a bit in world fiction, science, pop psychology and business. I kept seeing all of these interesting-sounding nonfiction books, silently adding them to my “to read” list, then lamenting because I spend so much time reading for work.

Time to use my powers for good. Why not incorporate some of those titles into my work reading?

Hence, Ways of Going Home. I’m sure it’s beautiful in it’s original Spanish, but Megan McDowell’s translation was poetic. The story switches between the narrative of the unnamed character and the author’s thoughts while writing the book.

Ways of Going Home alludes to a love story, but in a way that never resolves itself. The narrator is entranced from the beginning by a woman named Claudia, a woman that in part parallels Zambra’s own romantic interest. Along the same thread is a love story between a son and his father, a quietly man who aligns, subtly at best, with the Pinochet regime.

The back-and-forth between character and author was unusual; something I’d never read before. But I loved it; I loved getting inside the author’s mind in a completely unique way. The effect was intimate, bordering on voyeurism, but the accompanying story offers a warmth that makes it seek ok.

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About katepadilla

I write for the Spencer Daily Reporter in Spencer, Iowa. I keep blogs lifebythebooks, Save Me, San Francisco, and Beauty and Beast Buy a House. I'm also hard at work writing a short story collection inspired by the music of Train.

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