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Ways of Going Home [Hardcover]

Alejandro Zambra , Megan McDowell

RRP: £13.57
Price: £11.20 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Hardcover, 8 Jan 2013 £11.20  
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Book Description

8 Jan 2013
Growing up in 1980s Chile, a young boy plays hide and seek in the suburbs of Santiago with his friends while the adults become slowly entangled in the violence of Pinochet's regime - accomplices and victims of the brutal dictatorship. As the country shudders under authoritarian rule, the boy creates stories of his own to explain the sporadic scenes of violence, the disappearances, and the deafening silence of his mother and father. Until, on the night of the Santiago earthquake, a mysterious girl named Claudia appears among the children and the boy's world is changed forever. Now, as a young man reflecting on the tragedies of his childhood, he must find the courage to confront as an adult what he could not have known as a child, and to untangle Chile's troubled past. As he struggles to begin a novel which will encompass the clash between innocence and complicity, the boundaries between fiction and reality blur, and the beautiful Claudia comes back into his life. Ways of Going Home is a heartrending novel from a rising star of Latin America literature. It is the tragic story of the collateral damage caused by the Pinochet regime, and the burden borne by the new generation as they come to terms with their fragile history.
--This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

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Review

"Complex yet sophisticated, the novel places Zambra at the spearhead of a new Chilean fiction and sets him alongside other Latin American writers such as Colombia s Juan Gabriel Vasquez, who weave some of the continent s most difficult historical themes into an exciting modern art form." --Observer

"Ways of Going Home manages, in its sparse, moving, constantly smoking cool-eyed Chilean way, to add up to a stark and timely study of fiction, truth, memory, family, revolution, secrets, lies, sex, Pinochet and death ... A wonderful book." --Dazed & Confused

"Rising through the ranks of Latin American literature is Alejandro Zambra, a writer from Chile who has won over critics with his captivating work ... Thought-provoking and inspiring, the book also echoes some of the author s own nostalgia of growing up during that turbulent time." --Manchester Evening News

"Zambra cannot simply be pigeonholed as a Spanish-Language writer. His concerns and influences are broader, and in the meditative, discursive timbre of the writing readers may recognise an affinity with other voices such as Nigerian-American novelist Teju Cole ... Brief but notable. -Sunday Telegraph"

"Still in his thirties, the novelist, poet and critic Alejandro Zambra is considered by many to be one of Chile s finest writers. Ways of Going Home is deceptively slight and finely wrought: it is both a wistful look at Chile s recent political history and a metafictional reflection on the nature of writing." --Times Literary Supplement

"A brief but brilliant coming of age novel from Chile. Zambra mixes fiction with reality, recalling Santiago of the 1980s, the Pinochet regime and the violence that came with it." --Big Issue

A slim but thrilling novel from one of Chile's outstanding young writers ... Zambra's tightly crafted work explores the themes of childhood, disappointment, and the impossibility of ever returning home. --'Books of the year so far', Financial Times

"A brief but brilliant coming of age novel from Chile. Zambra mixes fiction with reality, recalling Santiago of the 1980s, the Pinochet regime and the violence that came with it." --Big Issue --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Alejandro Zambra (born 1975) is a poet, novelist, and literary critic born in Santiago, Chile. He is the author of two previous novels, The Private Lives of Trees and Bonsai, which was awarded the Chilean Critics Award for best novel. He was selected as one of Granta's Best of Young Spanish-Language Novelists and was elected to the Bogota-39 list. His work has been published in Granta, the Virginia Quarterly and Zoetrope. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.5 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Homeward Bound 9 April 2013
By Book Dork - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I'm not sure how I even heard of this novella but Alejandro Zambra, but it was definitely an interesting piece.

Going home... to a warm bed, nice people, and homemade dinner:
- I loved the blurred lines of author, narrator/writer, and character. It's the quintessential question that good fiction should bring up: what is true and what is not?
- I appreciate the length- I think that people may complain about the lack of depth in the characters or plot, but one must remember that it is a novella. Zambra tells us what we need to know- a sort of trust is necessary when dealing with shorter works.
- It's story about going home- when do we need to, how do we get there, and most importantly, what does staying entail (physically and mentally)?
- It's also a story about a break up, on two levels (both in real life and in the book he writes; in a way it is just one, though). It isn't a highly emotional break up with pages of laments, but instead one that is hauntingly sad and simplistically complicated.

Going Home... to your friend's couch, ramen, and a cat who hates you:
- I had hoped for a little more of Chilean history to matter, to impact. I felt like it was set up in the beginning to be more of a force, but it really hung in the background.
- I thought some of the tie-ins and connections towards the end were a little sloppy.

I thought this was a quick, interesting read, but, to be honest, I'd wait until it comes into paperback- the price is pretty steep for what it is.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars need a real 'earthquake' to shake this book 22 May 2013
By Luzviminda - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I found the characters interesting, especially the narrator - he has a lot of wise things to say about mundane as well as important things - like parent-children relationships, etc. but i was not engaged in the narrative which is a series of visits to former homes and neighborhoods, meeting girlfriends, relatives, friends and just chatting over the past. True, there is a little mystery thrown and the narrator gets a chance to be an unpaid 'spy' but it's just a little game this girl, Claudia, wants to play; it's not enough to grip me. Excellent translation, though.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Short but lovely new novel by Alejandro Zambra 12 May 2013
By Cassandra - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
This brief, 160-pages long novella looks at the recent past of Chile's Pinochet years, through the point of view of a now-adult who grew up in the 80s. I find it fascinating, this question of how we consider the recent past: too long ago for us to be directly implicated in it; too near for us to be unaffected.

The key character in `Ways of going home' (Zambra's 3rd novel) is a Chilean man (the narrator) who looks back at his childhood years in Santiago, at the time the Pinochet regime was in full swing. Time is the central theme of this book, as well as the parallel, shifting points of view of adults and children: what did the boy understand as a child about his parents' stance in terms of the dictatorship? How does he look back at events (e.g. adult discussions) as an adult now himself? Zambra creates a thought-provoking world where the child and adult perspectives and memories overlap at times, while at other times they take different directions.

The story begins during an evening when there's a strong earthquake in Santiago, bringing the boy together with a neighbourhood girl, Claudia, who guides him in directions that will stay with him for life. Years later, Claudia, after being lost from him for a long time, reappears into his life and the reader is left with questions about reality and fantasy. Indeed, `Ways of going home' can be seen precisely as this: some thoughts about what's really true and what's true only in our minds; some thoughts about how to deal with the past when it turns out it's unthinkable and we didn't know it; some thoughts about complicity, being a bystander and innocence or not-knowing. How do you answer the question of complicity when you--as I read somewhere the author feels--were not one of the primary victims of a tragedy and yet you end up feeling implicated by default, through your parents or through your mere presence in the country at the time? The other question the novel asks is about how we frequently end up being supportive actors, with little influence in the life of, first, our family, but also, more widely, the community we live in.

Despite its brevity, `Ways of going home' is charming and insightful, bursting at the seams with ideas that I think beg for more space. It has an interesting (although perhaps not that original anymore) structure--alternating between past and present, narrator and fictional character. I suppose that puts it in the field of a postmodern novel, although I'm not too keen about these sorts of labels.
2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting literary style, promising author 19 Mar 2013
By C. May - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
The writing style is very interesting and takes a bit of getting used to. We begin with an earthquake in Chile and a young boy meeting a slighly older girl during the aftermath. They strike up a friendship and she asks for a favor. The second portion is about the "writer" of that tale and how he is trying to fix things with his ex-wife, partly through the story he's writing. Alternating between the story and the author's story makes for some interesting reading and is quite the literary device.

Check out my full review at [...]
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