ISBN-10: 0872867714
ISBN-13: 9780872867710
Publisher: City Lights Books
Publish Date: 11/05/2019
Dimensions: 6.90" L, 4.90" W, 0.50" H

Published by City Lights

The Promise

Translator: Suzanne Jill Levine
Translator: Jessica Powell
Foreword by: Ernesto Montequin


Price: $16.95 $11.87


Kirkus Reviews calls The Promise one of the Best Books of Fiction, and of Literature in Translation, of the year!

* Voted one of the Big Fall Books from Indies by Publishers Weekly & LitHub’s Most Anticipated Books of 2019

“The world is ready for her blend of insane Angela Carter with the originality of Clarice Lispector.”–Mariana Enriquez, LitHub

“Both her debut story collection, Forgotten Journey, and her only novel, The Promise, are strikingly 20th-century texts, written in a high-modernist mode rarely found in contemporary fiction.”–Lily Meyer, NPR

“Silvina Ocampo is the next writer you should be reading.”–Michael Silverblatt

A dying woman’s attempt to recount the story of her life reveals the fragility of memory and the illusion of identity.

“Of all the words that could define her, the most accurate is, I think, ingenious.”–Jorge Luis Borges

“I don’t know of another writer who better captures the magic inside everyday rituals, the forbidden or hidden face that our mirrors don’t show us.”–Italo Calvino

“Few writers have an eye for the small horrors of everyday life; fewer still see the everyday marvelous. Other than Silvina Ocampo, I cannot think of a single writer who, at any time in any language, has chronicled both with such wise and elegant humor.”–Alberto Manguel

“Art is the cure for death. A seminal work by an underread master. Required for all students of the human condition.”–Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews

“This haunting and vital final work from Ocampo, her only novel, is about a woman’s life flashing before her eyes when she’s stranded in the ocean. . . . the book’s true power is its depiction of the strength of the mind and the necessity of storytelling, which for the narrator is literally staving off death. Ocampo’s portrait of one woman’s interior life is forceful and full of hope.”–Gabe Habash, Starred Review, Publishers Weekly

“Ocampo is beyond great–she is necessary.”–Hernan Diaz, author of In the Distance

“I don’t know of another writer who better captures the magic inside everyday rituals, the forbidden or hidden face that our mirrors don’t show us.”–Italo Calvino

“These two newly translated books could make her a rediscovery on par with Clarice Lispector. . . . there has never been another voice like hers.”–John Freeman, Executive Editor, LitHub

“Like William Blake, Ocampo’s first voice was that of a visual artist; in her writing she retains the will to unveil immaterial so that we might at least look at it if not touch it.”–Helen Oyeyemi, author of Gingerbread

A woman traveling on a transatlantic ship has fallen overboard. Adrift at sea, she makes a promise to Saint Rita, “arbiter of the impossible,” that if she survives, she will write her life story. As she drifts, she wonders what she might include in the story of her life–a repertoire of miracles, threats, and people parade tumultuously through her mind. Little by little, her imagination begins to commandeer her memories, escaping the strictures of realism.

Translated into English for the very first time, The Promise showcases Silvina Ocampo at her most feminist, idiosyncratic and subversive. Ocampo worked quietly to perfect this novella over the course of twenty-five years, nearly up until the time of her death in 1993.

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" . . . a bold phantasmagoria, marked by Ocampo's insight that in extremis, delirium can be the highest form of truth."–Laura Kolbe, New York Review of Books

"Diamonds, Dionysus, and Drowning: . . . every sentence glints with precision . . . what you're after are the sentences, which have the feel of epigrams . . . I think I took a photo of nearly every other page so as not to forget them."–Rhian Sasseen, The Paris Review

"Suzanne Jill Levine, working with Jessica Powell on The Promise and Katie Lateef-Jan on Forgotten Journey, has produced a translation that beautifully captures the elegance and strangeness of Ocampo's style. . . . The results are intoxicating."–Miranda France, The Times Literary Supplement

"These are the moments that elevate The Promise into a higher echelon of letters; simultaneously, death proves evasive and nostalgia serves as a survival tactic. All the while readers get to witness the wondrous tightrope act Ocampo performs, traipsing back and forth between past and present."–John Gibbs, Zyzzyva

"Legend Silvina Ocampo worked on perfecting this novel [The Promise] over the course of 25 years, right up until her death in 1993, and it's out this fall in its first ever English translation. It's being published alongside Forgotten Journey a collection of short stories by Ocampo translated by Suzanne Jill Levine and Katie Lateef-Jan. In The Promise, a woman reminisces about her life, and lets her imagination get away with her, after falling overboard into the sea–a reflection of Ocampo's own struggles with dementia and her interest in memory and identity. It's said to be Ocampo 'at her most feminist, idiosyncratic and subversive' and I just can't wait to get my hands on it and Forgotten Journey."–Pierce Alquist, Book Riot

"A woman examines her life piecemeal, putting it together like a puzzle missing half its pieces–but the resulting image is all the more mesmerizing because of it. A deft and subtle novel that holds together as airily as a spider's web."–Brian Evenson, author of Song for the Unraveling of the World: Stories

"It's an extraordinary book, for which only Borges's description of her writing will do–clairvoyant."–Brian Dillon, 4Columns

"Her obliquely-focused narrative lens requires readers to experience the off-kilter sensation of a slant perspective, lending a cinematic quality to her gothic themes."–Dorothy Potter Snyder, "Reading in Translation"

"Silvina Ocampo's fiction is wondrous, heart-piercing, and fiercely strange. Her fabulism is as charming as Borges's. Her restless sense of invention foregrounds the brilliant feminist work of writers like Clarice Lispector and Samanta Schweblin. It's thrilling to have work of this magnitude finally translated into English, head spinning and thrilling."–Alyson Hagy, author of Scribe

"Forgotten Journey and The Promise by late Argentine writer Silvina Ocampo are cornucopias, outpourings of words with the same concision we ascribe to nature. Descriptions pour forth not like water but sap, ensuring the reader will pause and savor, not just in a portrait but every paragraph, each word."–Ana Castillo, Women's Review of Books

"A masterpiece from an extraordinary author who deserves to be read over and over. A gem."–Marjorie Agosin, author of I Lived On Butterfly Hill

"Ocampo inhabits and brings to life a hyper-real, surreal, and resolutely feminine world ruled by unapologetic beauty and pervading sadness."–Andrei Codrescu, author of No Time Like Now: New Poems

"Silvina Ocampo was once called the 'the best kept secret of Argentine letters, ' and was, through her own work and that of those she championed, a key figure of modernism. Known primarily in the English-speaking world as a friend of Borges and wife to his collaborator Bioy Casares, the translation of more of her work into English is a reason to celebrate her for her own right, as one of the most singular writers of the 20th century."–Stephen Sparks, Point Reyes Books, CA

"Only a masterful storyteller could pull off what Silvina Ocampo does in The Promise; a woman lost at sea drowns in her memories, while the water–never threatening–cradles her with echoes of the past. A novel that is not a novel; a hypnosis, really."–Gabriela Alemán, author of Poso Wells

"There is literature that takes the known world (a dinner party or a walk with a dog, first love or a visit to friends) and shows it in a way we've never seen before; there is literature that takes us to a place we've never been (early twentieth-century Buenos Aires or adrift in the middle of the ocean) and makes it somehow familiar. The marvel of Silvina Ocampo's fiction is that it does both things simultaneously, its deepest context the confluence of the things of this world . . . "–Kathryn Davis, author of The Silk Road

Praise for Thus Were Their Faces: Selected Stories by Silvina Ocampo:

"Dark, masterly tales. . . a (very good) introduction. . . . Ocampo's technique is beyond all reproach; an author has to keep masterly control when letting events veer off beyond the quotidian (the phrase 'magic realism' seems inadequate when applied to her)." –Nicholas Lezard, The Guardian

"These stories are feverish, cruel, and wry, set among the surrealisms of puberty, disability, and precarity."–Joshua Cohen, Harper's

Praise for Silvina Ocampo:

"Ocampo wrote with fascinated horror of Argentinean petty bourgeois society, whose banality and kitsch settings she used in a masterly way to depict strange, surreal atmospheres sometimes verging on the supernatural." –The Independent

Praise for Suzanne Jill Levine's The Subversive Scribe:

"What [Levine] has to say about the linguistic, personal, scholarly, and imaginative elements that the translator must bring to that process is an invaluable contribution to our understanding of translation in particular and creativity in general.... An important and original book."–Edith Grossman, translator of Love in the Time of Cholera

Praise for venture of the infinite man by Pablo Neruda, translated by Jessica Powell:

"Jessica Powell is the 'distant light that illuminates the fruit' of venture of the infinite man, the twenty-two year old Pablo Neruda's untranslated third book. One part quest and one part inner map, in Powell's hands the delicious and strange language of the original dances effortlessly in English. Readers can now experience the moment Neruda evolved from being only a brilliant singer of love poems into a maker of rich, stunning worlds. This book is a treasure."–Tomás Q. Morín, author of Patient Zero

"This book has the fascination of being Neruda becoming Neruda. It's the brilliant young poet who made himself famous at nineteen and twenty with Twenty Love Poems, beginning to absorb the lessons of the new surrealism and making his way to the world poet he would become in Residence on Earth. So it is a leap into the imagination of one of the crucial poets of the twentieth century as he is feeling his way."–Robert Hass

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ISBN-10: 0872867714
ISBN-13: 9780872867710
Publisher: City Lights Books
Publish Date: 11/05/2019
Dimensions: 6.90" L, 4.90" W, 0.50" H
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