In this novel, Enrique Vila-Matas traces a journey connecting the worlds of Joyce and Beckett, and all they symbolize.
One night, a renowned and now retired literary publisher has a vivid dream that takes place in Dublin, a city he’s never visited. The central scene of the dream is a funeral in the era of Ulysses. The publisher would give anything to know if an unidentified character in his dream is the great author he always wanted to meet, or the ghostly angel who abandoned him during childhood. As the days go by, he will come to understand that his vision of the end of an era was prophetic.
Enrique Vila-Matas traces a journey that connects the worlds of Joyce and Beckett, revealing the difficulties faced by literary authors, publishers, and good readers in a society where literature is losing influence. A robust work, Dublinesque is a masterwork of irony, humor, and erudition by one of Spain’s most celebrated living authors.
The narrator of is a writer named Jose who is so obsessed with literature that he finds it impossible to distinguish between real life and fictional reality. Part picaresque novel, part intimate diary, part memoir and philosophical musings, Enrique Vila-Matas has created a labyrinth in which writers as various as Cervantes, Sterne, Kafka, Musil, Bolano, Coetzee, and Sebald cross endlessly surprising paths. Trying to piece together his life of loss and pain, Jose leads the reader on an unsettling journey from European cities such as Nantes, Barcelona, Lisbon, Prague and Budapest to the Azores and the Chilean port of Valparaiso. Exquisitely witty and erudite, it confirms the opinion of Bernardo Axtaga that Vila-Matas is "the most important living Spanish writer."
“Something strange happened along the way,” Vila-Matas wrote. “Normally, writers try to pass a work of fiction off as being real. But in, the opposite occurred: in order to give meaning to the story of my life, I found that I needed to present it as fiction.”
An author (a version of Vila-Matas himself) presents a short history of a secret society, the Shandies, who are obsessed with the concept of portable literature. The society is entirely imagined, but in this rollicking, intellectually playful book, its members include writers and artists like Marcel Duchamp, Aleister Crowley, Witold Gombrowicz, Federico Garcia Lorca, Man Ray, and Georgia O Keefe. The Shandies meet secretly in apartments, hotels, and cafes all over Europe to discuss what great literature really is: brief, not too serious, penetrating the depths of the mysterious. We witness the Shandies having adventures in stationary submarines, underground caverns, African backwaters, and the cultural capitals of Europe."
A puzzling phone call shatters a writer s routine. An enigmatic female voice extends a dinner invitation, and it soon becomes clear that this is an invitation to take part in the documenta, the legendary exhibition of contemporary art held every five years in Kassel, Germany. The writer s mission will be to sit down to write every morning in a Chinese restaurant on the outskirts of town, transforming himself into a living art installation. Once in Kassel, the writer is surprised to find himself overcome by good cheer as he strolls through the city, spurred on by the endless supply of energy at the heart of the exhibition. This is his spontaneous, quirky response to art, rising up against pessimism.With humor, profundity, and a sharp eye, Enrique Vila-Matas tells the story of a solitary man, who, roaming the streets amid oddities and wonder, takes it upon himself to translate from a language he does not understand."