cover image The Impostor

The Impostor

Edgard Telles Ribeiro, trans. from the Portuguese by Kim M. Hastings and Margaret A. Neves. Bellevue Literary, $17.99 trade paper (192p) ISBN 978-1-954276-15-4

Brazilian writer Ribeiro (His Own Man) offers two elegant novellas, each an atmospherically charged investigation of consciousness, familial ties, legacy, and language. In the title work, the unnamed narrator, an elderly translator, recovers from a stroke, then takes a vacation to Naples in homage to an ancestor who, according to lore, fell into the volcano at Mount Vesuvius. The translator imagines what drew his ancestor from Brazil to the volcano in the early 20th century, and he calls himself an “inveterate traveler... wavering between the past and the future.” Elizabeth, the narrator of “Blue Butterflies of the Amazon” has also had a stroke, leaving her paralyzed and mute. Her husband, Thomas, and daughter-in-law, Deborah, begin having sex with each other—sometimes right in front of her. Eventually, Deborah gets pregnant and later miscarries. The narration alternates between the novella’s various characters, and though they’re each distinctive, Elizabeth’s is the most complex, as she notes how “forgiveness, hatred, and pleasure intertwine” within her while she watches the drama unfold. These crystalline stories form a memorable diptych. Agent: Thomas Colchie, Colchie Agency. (June)