An Orphan World

Giuseppe Caputo, trans. from the Spanish by Juana Adcock and Sophie Hughes. Charco, $15.95 trade paper (218p) ISBN 978-1-9164656-2-6
Colombian writer Caputo’s transfixing debut explores the poverty, sexuality, and community found in a hardscrabble neighborhood. The nameless young adult narrator lives with his inventive, hopeful father in a threadbare apartment. While the father dreams up new ways to make money—such as turning their home into a “Talking House” using a tape recording of his voice, or opening a late-night snack shop—the narrator seduces strangers online and recounts his first experience at a gay bathhouse, continuously searching for physical connection and escape. After a homophobic massacre at a bar, many of the narrator’s friends move away, but he and his father stay behind. Flashbacks flesh out the narrator’s relationship with his father, as when, for instance, the father took inspiration from cave paintings to draw on the walls of their unfurnished, undecorated apartment. Each scene has a dreamlike quality, and the father and son’s abject poverty comes through in careful detail, never slipping into the maudlin. As a late stretch of prosperity shows the protagonists in a new light, it’s hard not to expect the other shoe to drop. Caputo’s arresting novel hits hard. Agent: Víctor Hurtado Rodríguez, VicLit Agency. (Feb.)
Reviewed on : 10/13/2020
Release date: 02/01/2021
Genre: Fiction
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