cover image Voyager: Constellations of Memory

Voyager: Constellations of Memory

Nona Fernández, trans. from the Spanish by Natasha Wimmer. Graywolf, $15 trade paper (136p) ISBN 978-1-64445-217-2

Chilean actor and novelist Fernández (The Twilight Zone) braids the mystery of the mind with the cosmos in this roving memoir. After her mother began having fainting spells, Fernández took her to see a neurologist who performed a brain scan. The image produced, of countless neural networks and synapses, reminded Fernández of celestial constellations—“an imaginary chorus of stars twinkling softly in my mother’s brain”—and ignited in Fernández a fascination with deep space. Soon, she traveled to the Atacama Desert in Chile, “the best place in the world for stargazing,” and was taken aback by the location’s dark history as the site of a mass execution perpetrated by Augusto Pinochet’s Caravan of Death in 1973. Fernández details 26 stars that have been renamed in honor of the victims, zeroing in on Star HD89353 for Mario Argüelles Toro, and researches his life in an effort to preserve his memory. Her work propels her toward existential questions: “Who are we? Where are we going? Where do we come from?” In finding poetic answers to those queries, Fernández documents the history of her homeland and aids her ailing mother (whose epilepsy diagnosis brought additional complications), all while musing on the intricacies of the universe. The result is a moving reflection that’s scientific, cerebral, and spiritual. (Feb.)