The latest novel from one of Mexico’s finest experimental writers is a madcap metafictive romp that picks up a few decades after Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina leaves off. But it’s also an absurdist tour de force account of early revolutionary activity. . . . Reminiscent of Bolaño, Borges, and Pynchon, but Boullosa’s utterly original voice is at its best when it’s let loose.” —Kirkus
“This superb translation from Spanish by Samantha Schnee, founding editor of Words Without Borders, is a book of nimble prose that deftly plays with the boundaries between fiction and history. Drawing together servants, diplomats, anarchists, seamstresses and aristocrats at the eve of the Russian Revolution, Boullosa brings heightened eroticism, feminism, and liberation to Tolstoy’s imagined world.” —The Observer
“Anna Karenina’s children and other fictions of Tolstoy’s—who know they aren’t exactly human—intertwine with Carmen Boullosa’s own fictions, who think they are real, and also with the Russian Revolution. A delightfully original and enjoyable book—Russian literature seen through Latin American eyes, and made into something new.” —Salman Rusdie
“What does it mean to say that a fictional character has so infused our collective imagination that she’s ‘taken on a life of her own’? And what if the very vitality of her fictional portrait is what seems to deny her the possibility of living that life—or telling it as her own story? Carmen Boullosa plants an anarcho-feminist bomb in the afterlife of Tolstoy’s novel—and then lovingly collects the scattered pages and bloodied rags that she’s let fly, assembling them into a dreamscape where author, character and reader might finally be pressed to recognize one another’s autonomous voice, and humanity. Historical and yet uncannily actual, readerly and yet deeply writerly, The Book of Anna is a much-needed reminder of the performative power of fiction in unjust and turbulent times.&rdquo —Barbara Browning
“A beguiling return to the world created by Tolstoy. This beautiful translation takes Anna Karenina’s story a step further, showing how a single tragedy ripples across generations.” —Elliot Ackerman, author of Waiting for Eden
Praise for Carmen Boullosa
“For sheer inventiveness and mischievous brio, few contemporary novelists can match Carmen Boullosa. In this, one of her best novels, a nineteenth-century Russian masterpiece is both updated and turned on its head. Comedy and tragedy, realism and fantasy, are all blended flawlessly. The result is a delicious, spicy literary borscht.” —Phillip Lopate
“[T]hreads characters from Leo Tolstoy’s masterpiece into an innovative narrative caper that blends history, fiction, and fairytale. . . . The sheer innovation of Boullosa’s multi-layered narrative presents the reader with a nesting doll of fictions and historiesthreads that intertwine questions of self-hood, artistic creation, and the many-layered voices of political change. The Book of Anna marks the rare achievement of a writer who balances the weight of Tolstoy’s complicated genius with her own interpretation of events, real and fictitious, with unmitigated brio and a touch of mischievous whimsy. It will surely become a modern classic.” —Paperback Paris
Praise for Carmen Boullosa
“Carmen Boullosa writes with a heart-stopping command of language.” —Alma Guillermoprieto
“A cross between Gabriel Garcia Marquez and W. G. Sebald.” — El Pais
“This book occupies a Borgesian tradition in which possible and impossible exist simultaneously in one text.” —John Trefry, Full Stop
“[Boullosa] is witty, wacky, iconoclastic, post-modern, and thoroughly original.” —The Modern Novel
“Read Boullosa because she is a masterful commander of fantastic language.” — Words Without Borders
“Mexico's greatest woman writer.” —Roberto Bolaño
“A luminous writer . . . Boullosa is a masterful spinner of the fantastic.” — Miami Herald
"Utterly entertaining—a comic tour de force. I loved the book and think it deserves a very wide readership." —Philip Lopate
“Brutal, poetic, hilarious and humane...a masterly crafted tale.” —Sjón
“A lucid translation from the Spanish by Samantha Schnee. . . . [Boullosa's] tale, loosely based on the Mexican invasion of the US known as the ‘Cortina troubles’, evok[es] a history that couldn’t be more relevant to today’s immigration battles in the US.” —Jane Ciabattari, BBC
A madcap romp through St. Petersburg jumbles fiction together with history, anarchists with royalists, sense with nonsense.
Sergei Karenin is driven to distraction by two things: First, that when people see him they think only of his mother and the scandal she created in St. Petersburg society; and, second, that like his mother, but unlike most of the others around him, he is a fictional character. At the opera, he wonders, “Is there anyone here who sees me not as a character, but as a person?” He despairs: “Even I think of myself as a character.” The latest novel from one of Mexico’s finest experimental writers is a madcap metafictive romp that picks up a few decades after Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina leaves off. But it’s also an absurdist tour de force account of early revolutionary activity. The book opens in 1905. An anarchist seamstress leaves a bomb on a train but it fails to blow up. A mysterious priest named Father Gapon is leading a march to the czar, “seeking justice and protection.” “Comrades,” Gapon asks the masses, “do you swear to die for our cause?” “We swear!” they respond. Meanwhile, Sergei’s wife finds a box in the attic: It seems that Anna Karenina has left behind not one but two manuscripts written in an opium-fueled state. The second of these, a fairy tale about a girl named Anna, drives the latter half of Boullosa’s book. What does this all add up to? Who could say? The czar is taking a bubble bath, but the masses are on the march. All roads seem to point toward revolution.
Reminiscent of Bolaño, Borges, and Pynchon, but Boullosa’s utterly original voice is at its best when it’s let loose.