The most unsettling and stunning of Aira's short novels published by New Directions. "On a building site of a new, luxury apartment building, visitors looked up at the strange, irregular form of the water tank that crowned the edifice, and the big parabolic dish that would supply television images to all the floors. On the edge of the dish, a sharp metallic edge on which no bird would have dared to perch, three completely naked men were sitting, with their faces turned up to the midday sun; no one saw them, of course." from GhostsGhosts is about a construction worker's family squatting on a building site. They all see large and handsome ghosts around their quarters, but the teenage daughter is the most curious. Her questions about them become more and more heartfelt until the story reaches a critical, chilling moment when the mother realizes that her daughter's life hangs in the balance.
Nominated for a Neustadt Award and the Man Booker International Prize, César Aira was born in Coronel Pringles, Argentina, in 1949. He has published at least eighty books and was most recently the creator of a limited edition, “The Valise,” for the Museum of Modern Art, NYC.
The poet Chris Andrewsteaches at the University of Western Sydney, Australia, where he is a member of the Writing and Society Research Center. He has translated books by Roberto Bolaño and César Aira for New Directions.
Don't let the supernatural title mislead you. This is a literary work, profound in its societal and gender observations. The entire story takes place on New Year's Eve in Buenos Aires and follows the family of a construction caretaker living in a half-built luxury condominium. The focal character is the caretaker's stepdaughter, Patri, whose coming-of-age story is complex, ambiguous, and chilling. Ghosts are real in this story, but they aren't frightening; these ghosts urinate gleefully off of the roof, hang upside down imitating clock hands, and, toward the end of the book, exude masculinity and sexuality. Patri's interaction with the ghosts makes the thoughtful reader ponder gender, culture, youth and experience in the context of the novel. Beyond the thought-provoking story is Aira's tremendous skill as a writer--"bare" writing with wild analogies and strange juxtapositions. "Ghosts" is not a masterpiece, perfect in every way, like Aira's "An Episode in the Life of a Landscape Painter," but it's haunting in its own way, unique and compelling.