cover image Sergio Y.

Sergio Y.

Alexandre Vidal Porto, trans. from the Portuguese by Alex Ladd. Europa (PRH, dist.), $16 trade paper (192p) ISBN 978-1-60945-327-5

Porto’s captivating, impeccably structured novel is a detective story wrapped around a deeper exploration of identity. Armando proclaims himself at the outset to be one of São Paulo’s best doctors, but the case of a 17-year-old named Sergio haunts him, due to Armando’s failure to diagnose a critical aspect of the unhappiness Sergio sought to eradicate through therapy: namely, Sergio’s wish to become a woman. Even though Sergio insists after discontinuing therapy that Armando helped him realize the course his life must take, Armando still considers the treatment a missed opportunity. Only after Sergio’s death does Armando learn about Sergio’s move to New York City and his path to becoming a woman named Sandra. Plagued by self-doubt about whether he inadvertently led Sergio to his death, Armando begins an investigation into Sergio’s journey as well as his own role in moving Sergio toward his ultimate destiny. The result is a methodical and deeply layered narrative about the sacrifices we make in the search for happiness. (May)