Praise for The Impostor
“Ribeiro’s deft and insinuating storytelling captures the uncanny feeling of slippage. . . . [His writing is] atmospheric and engrossing, and by the end Mr. Ribeiro has proven himself a master of the subtleties of subjectivity.” —Wall Street Journal
“Explor[es] the mysteries and possibilities of life continually unfolding rather than irrevocably damaged.” —North of Oxford
“Two elegant novellas, each an atmospherically charged investigation of consciousness, familial ties, legacy, and language. . . . These crystalline stories form a memorable diptych.” —Publishers Weekly
“These inventive novellas are like literary puzzles for the reader to tease out.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Telles Ribeiro’s title novella is a tour de force that takes place simultaneously in the distant past and in the present, in a seamlessly fractured continuum of time. The second novella is a complex and breathtaking work, rich in feeling, an audacious, dazzling performance. By turns delicate and humorous, wrenching and melancholic, it lays bare the souls of its characters in a manner that I can only call Chekhovian. It is the work of a master.” —Jaime Manrique, author of Cervantes Street and Like This Afternoon Forever
“Comical and brooding, enchanting and disturbing, The Impostor triggers a unique free fall into the unnerving craters of the mind.” —Laura Restrepo, author of Delirium and The Divine Boys
Select Praise for Edgard Telles Ribeiro
“Elegant, absorbingly knowing, chilling, dryly humorous and often moving.” —Francisco Goldman, author of Say Her Name and Monkey Boy
“Cunning” —Maureen Corrigan, Washington Post
“[Telles Ribeiro] unveils details with a poetic lushness, unhurried, dreamy, as if lingering on their weight, their significance.” —Philadelphia Inquirer
“The art of Telles Ribeiro’s [work] is in his sumptuous lyrical narrative style.” —Tulsa World
“Telles Ribeiro’s [work] is of global import, a caution against too readily forgetting and too quickly adapting.” —Words Without Borders
Two novellas that challenge the chronological conventions of narrative.
This slim volume from a veteran Brazilian novelist (and film critic and diplomat) pairs two works from different eras: the 2020 title novella, translated by Hastings, followed by Blue Butterflies of the Amazon from 1996, translated by Neves. They are very different, though both feature a character who has suffered a stroke, and each concerns some interplay of chance and fate. The Impostor offers a first-person narrative by a veteran translator taking a trip to Italy with his wife. His impetus for the journey is to visit Vesuvius, where his great-granduncle fell into the volcano. Or jumped—accident or suicide? It was long ago and long forgotten, but the incident has fresh resonance for the protagonist, who had recently suffered what he insists on calling “a neurological issue. A minor one,” in which he “disappeared someplace” for 20 days. The narrative flows across time and space, from descriptions of the Italian vacation to visits with the therapist who is trying to help him account for that lost time to bonding with his 16-year-old grandson. (The two of them smoke a joint and play video games, providing additional narrative confusion.) He also conjures characters, perhaps in dreams, who seem to know him, though he doesn’t know them. Are they impostors? Or is he? By the end it appears that the trip he has been recounting is one he is still anticipating. The second, earlier novella focuses on sexual transgression across a couple of generations. An award-winning young scientist and his wife have returned to his family home to help his father after his mother suffered a stroke that has left her almost comatose. But she observes way more than she can communicate and more than her oblivious son does. Each of the four characters alternate narrating from their very different perspectives, with surprising results.
These inventive novellas are like literary puzzles for the reader to tease out.