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Rodrigo Rey Rosa; Translated by Chris Andrews

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A new translation of the Guatemalan author whom Roberto Bolaño called “the most rigorous writer of my generation, the most transparent . . . the most luminous of all”
Severina is impeccably written. . . . Read this great novel.”—Luis Alonso Girgado, El Ideal Gallego

“Right from the start I picked her for a thief, although that day she didn’t take anything. . . . I knew she’d be back,” the narrator/bookseller of Severina recalls in this novel’s opening pages. Imagine a dark-haired book thief as alluring as she is dangerous. Imagine the mesmerized bookseller secretly tracking the volumes she steals, hoping for insight into her character, her motives, her love life. In Rodrigo Rey Rosa’s hands, this tale of obsessive love is told with breathless precision. The bookstore owner is soon entangled in Severina’s mystery: seductive and peripatetic, of uncertain nationality, she steals books to actually read them and to share with her purported grandfather, Señor Blanco.
In this unsettling exploration of the alienating and simultaneously liberating power of love, the bookseller’s monotonous existence is rocked by the enigmatic Severina. As in a dream, the disoriented man finds that the thin border between rational and irrational is no longer reliable. Severina confirms Rey Rosa’s privileged place in contemporary world literature.

Rodrigo Rey Rosa is a Guatemalan writer whose work has been widely translated and internationally acclaimed. His books Dust on Her Tongue, The Beggar’s Knife, and The Pelcari Project were translated into English by the late Paul Bowles. Chris Andrews teaches at the University of Western Sydney and is a prize-winning poet. He has translated the works of numerous Latin American authors, among them Roberto Bolaño and César Aira.

“The Guatemalan writer focuses his energy on the subtle elements of his style: the speed, exactitude and concise beauty of his prose, combined with the refined flow of his narratives, continue to recommend him as a young master in the art of saying more with less.”—Gustavo Guerrero, Letras Libres

“I, without false modesty, am happy to admit that I have read all of [Rodrigo Rey Rosa’s] work. . . . A novel of love and passion that leaves the reader in constant suspense, Severina is impeccably written, with an exact and precise narrative told through a serene, refined prose style. Read this great novel.”—Luis Alonso Girgado, El Ideal Gallego

“Rodrigo Rey Rosa’s oeuvre is characterized by the singular majesty of his stories and short pieces. . . . [His] surprising sobriety and economy of words have become legendary, and with reason. Severina affirms the career of a writer who seems to know very clearly who he is and what he intends to produce.”—Ricardo Baixeras, El Periódico

“This short novel is indicative of its author’s return to his origins, to his early stories that dazzled Paul Bowles, who translated his first three books into English.”—Diario de Pontevedra

“Rey Rosa’s book is both precious and precise. Its intense dreams, aphorisms, and literary lists are best read in one sitting. The author keeps readers on tenterhooks as issues of identity and desire ebb and flow along with a suspenseful episode involving the burying of a body. The fable here is a tale of love and forgiveness, which also includes the thievery of a book from Jorge Luis Borges’s library. And while it would be impertinent to steal a copy, it is hard not to be tempted to grab a copy of this slim, terrific book.”—Publishers Weekly
Severina is a satisfying, nicely crafted, and entertaining small tale of bookish obsessions, recommended to all who like a bit of clever literary fun.”—Complete Review

Severina is a nuanced but passionate homage to the act of reading, to a life lived, as the narrator finally puts it, ‘exclusively for and by books.’”—Zyzzyva

“A complex meditation on books and why people read them; on the value of libraries, both public and private; and on how books contribute to the very essence of life for cultures, societies, and individuals.”—Seeing the World Through Books

“In this short novel [Rey Rosa] opts to tell a different kind of tale, abounding with restlessness and compulsion. The narrator becomes obsessed with the title character, a young woman with a penchant for stealing from the bookstore he owns. His discovery of her motives sets in motion a series of interconnected musings on the nature of storytelling, truth, and fiction itself.”—Tobias Carroll, New York
ISBN: 9780300196092
Publication Date: February 25, 2014
112 pages, 5 x 7 3/4
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