Its style is unique to Tizano . . . An assured but challenging anti-narrative, its offbeat structure evoking a world slipped off its axis.” —Kirkus
“Dense with imagery and boundless imagination . . . Blending the wildly dystopian with the mundanity of the everyday, this time-jumping narrative is a bolt of originality from a writer to watch.” —Publishers Weekly
“Mind-blowingly original, powerful and stark prose, captivating rhythm, and haunting, memorable imagery. Tizano is a master of the uncanny.” —Valeria Luiselli
“Tizano fashions an original, astonishing, and terrifyingly unhinged dystopia…Thomas Bunstead adds to an impressive resumé with a seamlessly literary and peppery translation from the Spanish.” — The Millions
“The rewards that come from reading Jakarta are manifold. . . . This is Tizano’s first novel, ably translated by Thomas Bunstead, but he has the boldness of someone who’s been at it for decades. It’s the beginning of a promising literary career.&rdquo —Star Tribune
“This challenging, provocative short novel conjures fever-dreams of a city ravaged by plague . . . horror-touched rather than horror itself, with beguiling short chapters and a mad variety of interests. To show it all at once, Tizano dares readers to get a little lost.” —Shelf Awareness
“Superb. . . . this novel signals the arrival of a unique, important voice on the American literary landscape.” —Southwest Review
“The non-linear structure, the density of the prose, the general weirdness of the setting mean you have to pay attention. That's a good thing. . . . Tizano’s distinctive style and his boundless imagination are a thrill to read.” —Locus Magazine
“It takes a text like Jakarta, I think, to remind us of the purpose of literature, or perhaps the multi-faceted nature of that purpose. . . . A wonderfully cathartic text, in the truest Aristotelian sense, one that tackles extremely difficult and unfortunately poignant subject matter and handles it with supremely gratifying deftness.” —Angel City Review
“ Jakarta is a remarkable book, a layered exploration of a devastated world unlike anything I’ve ever read before. Patiently, strangely, these interconnected fragments reassemble into a nightmarish and beautiful hum—one meant to be experienced, not described. Let me press this apocalyptic book into your hands and say: Prepare. ” —Colin Winnette
“ Jakarta is what all novels should be and few are: a cultural narrative, a trace of unhinged civilization where individuals function like particles, suffering everything while aspiring to nothing but the cruel, unnoticed, even unwarranted heroism of the great anonymous histories.” —Sergio Chejfec
An impressionistic, abstract portrait of a society clawing back from a viral epidemic.
The unnamed narrator of Tizano's debut lives in Atlantika, which seems constructed out of stray parts from other dystopian novels. The ruling government is a technocratic autocracy that soothes the populace by encouraging it to bet on games of Vakapý, a modified version of jai alai played by robots. (The Orwellian-sounding Department of Chaos and Gaming handles the transactions.) A devastating outbreak called the Ź-Bug has wiped out a chunk of the population, and the narrator of the novel is a veteran of the Ź-Brigađe, charged with clearing rats from sewers and other unpleasant sites. Back at home, the narrator's partner, Clara, is consulting with a large, vaguely oracular glowing stone that calls up, among other things, memories of the narrator's classmates at a religious school before they were pressed into Ź-Bug service. The novel's milieu evokes Philip K. Dick at his gloomiest, and the narrator's mood can be as defeated as anybody's in Atwood or Orwell. ("Progress, hope, all of that: I never bought any of it.") Its style is unique to Tizano, however. The novel is structured in numbered paragraphs, each an often digressive study of a childhood memory, a vision from the stone, or Atlantika's despairing society. The nonlinear approach can befuddle, and though translator Bunstead ably stabilizes the tone, stray plot threads can be hard to parse. (Is the snow there really red, or is the narrator imagining things?) The title partly refers to a code name for the narrator, and the story invites readings as an allegory for our loss of identity in the face of social and epidemiological threats. Clear lessons are in short supply, though.
An assured but challenging anti-narrative, its offbeat structure evoking a world slipped off its axis.