I’ve discarded lots of unfinished books on this trip, but two have stood out for their excellence:
1. The Past, by Alan Pauls. I don’t usually like drug-fueled tales of unhealthy sexual obsession, but I’ll make an exception for this one. This Argentine novel has received rave reviews across Europe, but still does not seem to have a U.S. publisher; the Amazon link is to a UK edition. It’s uneven, but it has a higher number of memorable scenes than almost any other contemporary novel.
2. The Adventures and Misadventures of Maqroll, by Alvaro Mutis. Imagine a Colombian version of 1001 Nights and Don Quixote, in novella form. This is 700 pp. of sheer delight, and it also indicates we are just starting to figure out which Latin American works of fiction will prove of lasting importance. This is one of them, and another superb translation from Edith Grossman.
If I read two works of fiction this good in 2008, I will be grateful.