This novel is messy, exhilarating and hugely enjoyable. It is to the credit of Noel Hénandéz Gonzalez and Daniel Hahn that they engage so exuberantly with the technical and creative challenge of conveying such a linguistically imaginative novel into English.
–Rónán Hession, The Irish Times
is about palindromes and murderers, anagrams and social chaos, how words work and countries break down. A daring and smart novelistic debut." –Juan Gabriel Vásquez, author of The Sound of Things Falling
"Jean Genet argued that it was impossible to commit a truly criminal act in a criminal society. He was thinking of Vichy France, but much the same is true in Rodrigo Blanco Calderón's subtle, intricate, very literary thriller set in the Venezuela of today. A page-turner for intelligent readers."
–Alberto Manguel, author of A History of Reading
Fiction, reality and popular culture knit a web of parallels and echoes, reminiscent of the work of Agustín Fernández Mallo, with nods to Roberto Bolaño's marginal writers –briskly deromanticized. The winner of the Mario Vargas Llosa Prize in 2019, The Night
, which now appears in translation by Daniel Hahn and Noel Hernández González, is unabashed literature about literature and, most originally, its building blocks in language.
–Lorna Scott Fox, TLS Times Literary Supplement
Venezuelan writer Blanco Calderón weaves a labyrinthine study of language, writers, and obsession against a backdrop of rampant femicides and the energy and political crises in contemporary Caracas. Three characters alternate the narration. There's Matías Rye, a struggling writer who runs writing workshops at a local high school and is working on a novel titled The Night
; Miguel Ardiles, a psychiatrist who loves to blur boundaries with his clients and dreams of being a writer; and Pedro Álamo, a writer obsessed with palindromes, anagrams, acrostics, and double-texts, cleverly translated by Hahn and Hernández González: "Alone, too, by myself, but noble, no regrets. You know the line, I suppose? But it can also be read as A loan to buy mice, elf, but no bell nor egrets." A plethora of other real and fictitious characters, mostly writers, inhabit the text in various ways, including Darío Lancini, a Venezuelan poet who wrote a 750-word palindrome, and Swiss linguist Ferdinand de Saussure, whose early 20th-century investigations into anagrams are intriguingly juxtaposed with contemporary murder investigations in Caracas. What emerges is a wild and complex celebration of language and storytelling. While dense, the result is exhilarating and entertaining