The Dinner Guest

Gabriela Ybarra, trans. from the Spanish by Natasha Wimmer. Transit, $15.95 trade paper (154p) ISBN 978-1-945492-24-2
Ybarra draws on two deaths in her family for this affecting, memoirlike novel, her first to be translated into English. In 1977, three masked assailants burst into the house of Ybarra’s paternal grandfather, Javier, a prominent businessman in the Basque Country of Spain. They kidnap him and later demand an exorbitant ransom. Ybarra imagines the family’s desperation over their inability to provide the sum, and the lengths they go to, including using divination and a complicated scheme to communicate with Javier via crossword puzzles. Even the discovery of Javier’s body after about a month of captivity provides incomplete closure to the family. In 2011, Ybarra’s mother, Ernestina, is diagnosed with cancer. She immediately moves to New York for treatment, where Ybarra takes a leave of absence from school and work to be with her. Ybarra revisits sites of Ernestina’s treatment following her death and reflects on the pain of her loss. Ybarra favors deep emotion over clear explanations and provides only passing references to her family’s wealth and the political components of the kidnapping. This novel’s honest rawness of coming to terms with premature death will resonate with readers. (May)
Reviewed on : 02/28/2019
Release date: 05/01/2019
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 160 pages - 978-1-910701-98-0
Paperback - 176 pages - 978-1-78470-415-5
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