Harmada

João Gilberto Noll, trans. from the Portuguese by Edgar Garbelotto. Two Lines, $14.95 trade paper (168p) ISBN 978-1-949641-05-9
The late Brazilian novelist Noll (1946–2017) returns with the provocative and outlandish story of a washed-up actor drifting through the fantastical city of Harmada. Propelled through protean events and bizarre sexual phantasmagoria, the narrator sometimes appears as surprised by the book’s twists and turns as the reader. He swims with a disabled man who vanishes into the river, almost has a foursome in a dilapidated hotel room, survives a devastating earthquake, marries and discovers he is infertile, lives in a derelict shelter for years, and eventually becomes a successful theater director—much of which occurs in a matter of pages or even paragraphs. The book flows with the logic of dreams, the scenes altering as suddenly and inscrutably as the narrator’s explosive urges. Bodily fluids abound, acting as a sort of governing metaphor for the book itself: “the narrative was a fluid I emitted thinly, toward a world still unknown.” The narrator wanders through notions of religion and poverty, storytelling and memory, as he tries to make sense of life in a “world still unknown.” The plot meanders so unpredictably that it leaves readers bewildered but never disinterested. But, as this is a portrait of a man’s alienation amid a search for joy, its disorientation might just be the point. (Nov.)
Reviewed on : 08/27/2020
Release date: 11/01/2020
Genre: Fiction
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