cover image Stay This Day and Night with Me

Stay This Day and Night with Me

Belén Gopegui, trans. from the Spanish by Mark Schafer. City Lights, $16.95 trade paper (208p) ISBN 978-0-87286-893-9

Spanish writer Gopegui explores the relationship between humans and AI in her thoughtful English-language debut. Mateo, 22, applies to a college program at Google and enlists the help of Olga, an older woman who owns a small tech company. He’d begun an application sometime earlier, he tells her, and receives regular emails from an AI bot who encourages him to finish, prompting Olga to suggest they write an application that will get the attention of an actual person. The rest of the narrative consists of their letter to Google, which often digresses into philosophical questions about existence informed by literary references (“All people who exist are alike, the ones who don’t exist don’t exist each in their own way”). Interspersed with these musings are scenes of Olga and Matteo hashing out their ideas in Olga’s apartment, with moments of tension as Matteo considers a cyber attack on Google, which Olga puts the brakes on. Gopegui leavens the high-mindedness with a cool sense of irony, and shines with her succinct insights on the similarities between humans and AI (“health apps that turn people into toasters”). Readers will be intrigued. (Mar.)