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Multiple Choice Hardcover – 6 Oct 2016

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Granta Books (6 Oct. 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1783782692
  • ISBN-13: 978-1783782697
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.1 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 63,572 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

'To my mind [this is] the best of what experimental fiction can be' -- Taiye Selasi, Best Books of 2016, Observer

'This year I was very happy to discover Alejandro Zambra. His new book, Multiple Choice, brilliantly translated from the Spanish by Megan McDowell, manages to blend Oulipian poetry, funny-sad short stories and choose-your-own adventure' -- Joe Dunthorne, Best Books of 2016, Observer

'Intriguing... [Multiple Choice] starts as comic wordplay but morphs gradually into a volley of melancholy nano-stories... inventive in form' -- Observer

'This is composition set in the key of fun - ironic, playful, sometimes bitter. The translation by Megan McDowell skims across the tricky terrain with grace and ease, capturing the comic absurdities and dark moments without any apparent linguistic stumble or pause... [Zambra has] a wonderfully seductive, ludic charm. Multiple Choice will be embraced by Zambra's devoted followers. Open-minded readers new to his quirky world could find it opening doors. Multiple doors perhaps' -- Spectator

'Tantalising... Mordantly funny and highly arresting [...] with nods to that great Latin American experimentalist Borges' -- Daily Mail

'A metatextual blast... the only real problem with this unusually pleasurable exam is that it's over far too quickly' -- Scotsman

'[Multiple Choice] blends fiction and memoir and messes enthusiastically with form. It is funny, melancholy, surprising. It is silly at times, profound at others. Its interactivity will entertain you, and might just change the way you think about fiction' -- Guardian



'Zambra's field on enquiry overspills the historical and political. It spreads far beyond Chilean borders and slips the bounds of narrative to question the very idea of a single, correct and definitive answer' -- Sunday Herald

'Original and deeply moving' -- Good Housekeeping

'Slowly, but surely, the questions and potential answers reveal profound takes on life in Chile under the dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet - both funny and melancholic... For all the plainness of the prose, read aloud this exercise and it almost takes the form of a sonnet. It is also heartbreaking' -- National

'One of the books of 2016... [It is] full of wit, spark, pathos and insight... Multiple Choice goes beyond all expectations in terms of originality... [It is] one of the most thought-provoking, original and rewarding reads of the year... [as well as] a surprisingly touching and immersive experience... Once I'd finished it the urge to immediately read it again [was] pretty much irresistible. It was even better then second time' --Big Issue

'A brilliant, book-length meditation on the limits of meaning, or the lack thereof. Formatted as an SAT-style test, Multiple Choice uses the form of the dreaded standardized test to create a philosophical playground for readers that's anything but standard.'-- Huffington Post, '22 Summer 2016 Books You Won't Want To Miss'

'Consistently witty and provocative... True or false: can effective fiction be written in the format of a standardized test? Answer: pretty much, and few are as equipped to do it as well as Chilean writer Zambra.' -- Kirkus Reviews

'Zambra is the defining light of today s Latin American literature an author whose cult is about to take over, the one we'll all be congratulating ourselves on having known about in the early days, before his deceptively slender masterpieces lay on every American reader's night table. Multiple Choice is the most daring distillation yet of his inimitable, take-no-prisoners genius.' -- John Wray, author of The Lost Time Accidents
'Brilliant... Like a literary exercise for the mind, but strangely fun to decode. Keep yourself sharp with one of the most interesting writers working right now.' -- Elle, '19 Summer Books That Everyone Will Be Talking About

'Amusing and unexpected... in just a few pages [Zambra] manages to be repeatedly engaging, smart, funny, and sad.' -- Publishers Weekly

'When I read Zambra I feel like someone's shooting fireworks inside my head. His prose is as compact as a grain of gunpowder, but its allusions and ramifications branch out and illuminate even the most remote corners of our minds.' -- Valeria Luiselli, author of The Story of My Teeth

'Zambra builds an elegant structure out of the important elements of life competition, pride, vigor, death, sex against a landscape of political menace. Read his book and, as with all true art, you'll be left wondering what it means but feeling that you know.' -- Atticus Lish, author of Preparation for the Next Life

'Multiple Choice is unlike anything I've ever encountered before. With his test questions and answers, the incomparable Alejandro Zambra creates verbal playgrounds for reverie, imagination, thought, and memory, and leads you through labyrinthine corridors in which you inevitably encounter yourself. Reading this book is a wonderfully disconcerting and unforgettable experience.' -- Francisco Goldman, author of Say Her Name

'There is no writer like Alejandro Zambra, no one as bold, as subtle, as funny. Multiple Choice is his most accomplished work yet, an apparently playful literary game you quickly realize is also deadly serious. This book is not to be missed.' -- Daniel Alarcón, author of At Night We Walk In Circles

'Falling in love with Zambra's literature is a fascinating road to travel. Imaginative and original, he is a master of short forms; I adore his devastating audacity.' -- Enrique Vila-Matas, author of The Illogic of Kassel

'As slim as Chile herself. As serrated and complex as her riddled coastline. There's so much to admire and enjoy in this dazzling little book.' -- Gavin Corbett, author of Green Glowing Skull

'I loved Multiple Choice. I hate exams, but I've sat this one a few times already. I'd give it an A-. The minus for being too smart and getting away with it' -- Stuart Evers, author of Your Father Sends His Love

'An experimental novella, written in the form of a multiple choice examination... Brilliant, innovative, beautiful - David Markson's Vanishing Point meets Junot Diaz's This Is How You Lost Her' --Taiye Selasi, 'summer must-reads', Guardian

'Dazzling... playful and profound' -- Lisa McInerney, Best Books of 2016, Irish Times

'Zambra steers away from the purely or the merely political, attending more closely to what such a regime does to the bonds of love' -- TLS

'A masterful act of transformation that turns reader into writer. Zambra gives us fragments, but he also gives us the autonomy to shore them up into something new: our very own book' -- Guardian

'Brilliant... funny... part philosophical parody, part satire, this is a highly original and poignant book' --Daily Telegraph

About the Author

ALEJANDRO ZAMBRA is the author of the story collection My Documents, a finalist for the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award, and three previous novels: Ways of Going Home, The Private Lives of Trees, and Bonsai, which won Chile's Literary Critics' Award for Best Novel. His stories have appeared in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, Harper's, Tin House, and McSweeney's, among others. In 2010, he was named one of Granta's Best Young Spanish-language Novelists.


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Alejandro Zambra's deconstruction (or reinvention) of literary narrative in the form of examination papers, tests and quizzes literally poses multiple questions for the reader. Are these collections of exercises meant to be playful or painful? Amusing or bitter? Frivolous or profound?

As most readers will discover, Zambra's short, very unusual novels encompass all of the above. There are no wrong answers or right answers.

"Multiple Choice" is, I think, his most successful book yet. Beginning with a set of apparently facetious multiple-choice questions ("mark the answer that corresponds to the word whose meaning has no relation to either the heading or the other words listed") the tenuous narrative soon deepens into a memoir of life in Chile under Pinochet, framed as a group of short stories which we are asked to regard as comprehension exercises.

What we are asked to comprehend is the experience of ordinary life in a dictatorship. As someone who grew up in a dictatorship (in one of the few countries to maintain warm relations with Pinochet's Chile and Galtieri's Argentina) this book struck many chords; but it is hard to imagine any literate reader who will not be moved, amused, and educated by this dazzlingly inventive author.

The miraculous translation by Megan McDowell is also to be praised, achieving as it does the near-impossible with a challenging original work.

Prepare yourself for a unique and uniquely pleasurable reading experience. Highly recommended.
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By Dr Barry Clayton TOP 500 REVIEWER on 19 Dec. 2016
Format: Hardcover
At the outset this book comprises a number of one word multiple choice questions. Gradually, these get longer and more difficult. In a final part you are give several short stories and then asked questions about them. The available five answers are extremely varied. In fact they all might fit. The aim is to make the questions increasingly interpretive. You are invited in fact to engage in literary criticism. Zambra explains that whereas examinations teach you to proceed from the abstract to the concrete, from the general to the specific, the key objective of literature is to disrupt those forms. Hence, the story tests in this unusual book deal not in certainty but in doubt.

The various scenarios are full of portrayals of human character as contingent, and volition as something heavily mediated by circumstances. For example, a man writes a letter to his son confessing that for years he has thought that if his son had not been born He would have needed less money. He adds, however, that my life would mean little without you. Another story tells how a narrator owes his existence to a curfew imposed by a regime. Read it to see why.

This book is extremely concerned with the ways in which are lives are shaped by education. In many of the scenarios that comprise these exam questions, the author's protagonists become suddenly adult. Some have cheated in their school or college exams yet are now very successful lawyers.

The book is translated from the Spanish. The chief protagonists in the reading comprehension sections are fathers and sons, siblings, couples, and absent lovers. Some are very poignant.

A most interesting and thought encouraging book. A very clever, and at times funny, use of multiple choice tests to explore deep philosophical issues.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 3.9 out of 5 stars 26 reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars If standardized tests were like this, I'd be in favor of them. 19 Jan. 2017
By J. S. Winston - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a novel that's truly indescribable, and certainly not at all describably as a "novel" in any conventional sense. I could say that it's highly experimental, highly original, highly ironic postmodern prose, which it is, but that could give the wrong impression, too, implying that it's any of those things for their own sake, the kind of superficial writing that exists to make writers and their readers feel clever. But it's also deeply political, deeply passionate, deeply moving, as well as deeply funny, and the best whatever it is I've read in a long time.
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing short book! 18 Oct. 2016
By Aviles - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Short but certainly entertaining read. I found the format of the book to make it much more interesting, as it felt as a short story collection but at the same time it threw me back to my years in school were multiple choice tests were a regular thing. It is also interesting in the sense that the writing style is open to many different interpretations of the content, which will surely give its readers a different story depending on who, when and where they experience it.
5.0 out of 5 stars and of the dictatorship that prescribed these kind of tests to dumb down Chilean students 5 Jan. 2017
By L.Tonesi - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Very strange book I read for a literature class. It has the format of a multiple choice exam, but the short essays (short stories?) that we are supposed to "analyze" for the test are a surprising description and criticism of Chilean society, and of the dictatorship that prescribed these kind of tests to dumb down Chilean students.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A remarkable book. 12 Sept. 2016
By Rob - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Never have I read anything like this. A must read for lovers of experimental writing, very much like poetry at times. Some short stories. Excellent fusion of genres. Fresh, original, awesome.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is an amazing book, written as a multiple choice test 29 Aug. 2016
By Lara Beth - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an amazing book, written as a multiple choice test. The reader becomes complicit in completing the work—forced to linger over the words and think about them deeply.
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