Space Invaders

Nona Fernández, trans. from the Spanish by Natasha Wimmer. Graywolf, $14 trade paper (96p) ISBN 978-1-64445-007-9
This standout debut from Chilean author Fernández dexterously tells the story of a group of Chilean friends haunted by the absence of their old classmate and friend, Estrella González, who left their school as they grew up during the Pinochet dictatorship. Years later, the friends all remember Estrella differently. Fuenzalida remembers her voice; Maldonado dreams about the letters Estrella sent to her (three of which are in the text); Riquelme remembers going to Estrella’s house to play Space Invaders and witnessing Estrella’s father, a high-ranking officer for Pinochet, remove his wooden prosthetic hand after he got home from work. The narrative eventually winds its way to revealing what happened to Estrella. Fernández’s masterstroke is her remarkable structure: the novella is related in fragments that drift and remain unreliable, which evokes the pervasive fear and uncertainty of life under Pinochet. “Time isn’t straightforward, it mixes everything up, shuffles the dead, merges them, separates them out again.... Whether we were there or not is no longer clear.... we’re left with traces of the dream, like the vestiges of a doomed naval battle.” Fernández’s outstanding novel explores the nature of memory and dreams, and how after a certain point, they become indistinguishable. (Nov.)
Reviewed on : 08/20/2019
Release date: 11/05/2019
Genre: Fiction
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