cover image Occupation


Julián Fuks, trans. from the Portuguese by Daniel Hahn. Charco, $15.95 trade paper (150p) ISBN 978-1-916277-87-8

Fuks’s accomplished work of autofiction (after Resistance) is a thoughtful, intimate exploration of how people literally and figuratively occupy their own stories and those of others. Set in contemporary Brazil, the narrative follows Sebastián, a writer whose wife, Fê, has recently decided she wants to have a child, just as Sebastián’s psychoanalyst father is hospitalized with a life-threatening illness. As Sebastián’s family is roiled, he records the stories of squatters living in the former Cambridge Hotel. While traveling between his father’s hospital room, the cramped rooms of the Cambridge, and his home, Sebastián muses on the intertwining of life and literature (“it had been a while since literature had shown itself so urgent and expressive”). After spending time with Cambridge resident Najati, a refugee from Syria, he finds himself strongly affected by his story and thinking that “someday Najati’s pages might come to occupy my own.” Yet he is also conscious of the artifice and estrangement fiction can engender. Throughout, Fuks deals forthrightly with the traumas endured by the squatters and his own family members, and the inclusion of letters shared with his mentor Mia Cuoto add a personal touch. This offers much more than the average story of a writer looking for material. Agent: Laurence Laluyaux, Rogers Coleridge & White. (Aug.)