cover image The Dark

The Dark

Sergio Chejfec, trans. from the Spanish by Heather Cleary. Open Letter (, $14.95 trade paper (150p) ISBN 978-1-934824-43-6

In this slim novel, presented as a not-quite-remorseful inner monologue, the unnamed narrator remembers Delia, a young factory worker with whom he was, and likely still is, in love. Delia is not only%E2%80%94predictably%E2%80%94beautiful, but also very poor, and much is said about her "proletarian nature" compared to the narrator's well-educated, middle-class background. He seems compelled to write out of his guilt over having disappeared from Delia's life, after hearing that she was pregnant and knowing he's the father. The book's structure reflects the recurrent torment of heartbreak, reliving past moments over and over again, but with a distance that, in this case, keeps both characters vague. The prose has the feel of a diary, with frequent interjections referencing the writing process itself: "One doesn't write to uncover what it is hidden, but rather to obscure it further." Unfortunately, as anyone who's ever listened to another person recount a breakup might know, fixation gets old fast. While Chejfec, a Jewish Argentinian writer, creates a philosophical tone that does capture something essential about suffering, along with an intellectually interesting lack of action, the overall result feels redundant and dull. (Oct.)