cover image Two Sherpas

Two Sherpas

Sebastián Martínez Daniell, trans. from the Spanish by Jennifer Croft. Charco, $16.95 trade paper (150p) ISBN 978-1-913867-41-6

Argentine novelist Daniell debuts with an evocative portrait of two Nepalese sherpas and their contrasting aspirations. It opens with Young Sherpa, a teenager, looking down upon the body of a fallen English mountaineer with Older Sherpa, a colleague in his mid-30s, whose understated and open-ended response to the incident speaks volumes to his younger colleague: “These people,” Older Sherpa says with a sweep of his hand, which Young Sherpa takes to encompass more than the tourists who attempt to climb Everest. Young Sherpa has more than once summited the mountain while Older Sherpa has not yet made it to the top, and Daniell draws distinctions between the two in other ways. After Young Sherpa lands a role in a high school production of Julius Caesar, Daniell’s extended summary of the play suggests Older Sherpa is Marullus to Young Sherpa’s Flavius. (Daniell also compares them to Renoir and the younger Monet.) As the two sherpas philosophize on the nature of their work, Daniell reveals a fascinating universe in scintillating prose, precisely translated by Croft. Here’s Young Sherpa considering a career in naval engineering while taking in a Himalayan view: “Blindness and bioluminescence. Tentacular electricity that discloses the dark of the ocean at night.” It’s a stunner. (Feb.)