cover image Kamchatka


Marcelo Figueras, trans. from the Spanish by Frank Wynne, Grove/Black Cat, $14.95 trade paper (312p) ISBN 978-0-8021-7087-3

In this meandering English-language debut from Figueras, a 10-year-old Argentinean boy's whimsical inner life helps him both explain and digest his family's fate in the aftermath of the 1976 coup. When his parents' leftist activism forces the family into hiding, the boy decides to call himself Harry after his idol, Houdini. Ensconced in a villa outside Buenos Aires, Harry staves off the boredom of being in hiding by playing the board game Risk (his favorite territory being the novel's namesake), working out with the cool 18-year-old activist staying with the family, and fantastical forays into the lives of his various heroes—Superman, Aristotle, Arthur of Avalon—whose stories Harry relates to his own life with uninhibited passion. The reader knows from the first chapter that Harry's family will be torn apart, yet Figueras is intent on leaving out any "grown-up" facts that would explain the ordeal, focusing instead on Harry's reflections on the malleability of memory. Yet because of the narrator's young age, conclusions such as "Time is weird" might feel more astute if they were grounded in a more trenchant narrative. (May)