Mexico, June 15, 1985. A child, orphaned in an earthquake, tells hospital workers her name is Mariposa, Spanish for "butterfly." Simultaneously, astronomers in Paris witness the birth of a star whose shape inspires them to name it Papillon, French for "butterfly." A woman opens a magazine and a brown butterfly flies out of its pages. And on this same day, the parents of 12-year-old Rovar Pfliegman drive into a telephone pole and are killed instantly.
Now 34, Rovar, mute since birth, has no relatives, no friends, and no formal education. He lives in Virginia and sells meat out of a bus: Pfliegman's Traveling Meat Bus. A self-made man, "the last remaining descendant in a line of the worst sort of losers on the planet," his is the legacy of generations of outcasts short-changed in every imaginable way -- except, that is, for Dr. Monica who tends to Rovar's panoply of ailments. Though Rovar believes his ill health is endemic to his birthright, unbeknownst to Rovar and Dr.Monica, he is midway through an extraordinary process, a metamorphosis that will finally set things right for the first time in his life. Equal parts ridiculous and sublime, The Convalescent is a singular and intelligent first novel by a marvelously gifted new writer. Rovar is a virtuosic creation, and an unforgettable reminder that we are not always what we seem. (Fall 2009 Selection)