Publication Date: Jun 05, 2018
List Price US $26.95
Trim Size (H x W): 5.5 x 8.25
List Price US $13.99
This Chilean literary thriller tells the story of three lives intertwined with that of an enigmatic author, whose character is inspired by the groundbreaking Brazilian writer Clarice Lispector.
Vera Sigall, now eighty years old, has lived a mysterious, ascetic life far from the limelight of literary circles. This powerful character has a profound effect on those around her—Daniel, an architect and her neighbor and friend, unhappy in his marriage and career; Emilia, a Franco-Chilean student who travels to Santiago to write a thesis on the elusive Vera; and Horacio, an acclaimed poet with whom Vera had a tumultuous, passionate affair in her youth.
As Daniel, Emilia, and Horacio tell their stories, they reconstruct Vera’s past, and search for their own identities. Spanning from modern-day Chile to the 1950s, 60s, and through the years of the Pinochet dictatorship, With You at a Distance reveals successive mysteries anddiscoveries like a set of Russian nesting dolls.
Excerpt from In the Distance With You
Somewhere on the planet, there was someone responsible for your death. That certainty grew stronger as each day passed, bludgeoning my conscience, making itself unbearable. But who? Why? I never imagined the answer might be so close that I could turn around and meet myself.
I remember the moment when I ran across the neighborhood vagrant, right after I bought the bread for our breakfast. His eyes, at once wounded and menacing, came to rest on me. I quickened my pace, while the jumbled mass of people around me, all of them in raincoats, walked past and disappeared into the morning fog. A group of kids crossed the avenue. The girls, wrapped in colorful scarves and speaking in low voices, shared their secrets as they walked, while the boys ran around shouting, pushing at one another like clumsy puppies. Their innocence increased the agitation that meeting the bum had produced in me. I couldn’t know what I would know a few minutes later, I couldn’t know what had happened to you during the night, or maybe at dawn.
Every morning before seeing you, I’d always wonder what sort of mood you’d be in. It was impossible to predict, governed by your dreams, by the intensity of the light and the temperature, by infinite layers of circumstances I never managed to figure out. Sometimes you talked to me incessantly, but at other times you would seem absorbed in listening to the sound of a world that existed inside you.
“As Carla Guelfenbein demonstrates in this intricately woven novel, the pursuit of individual fulfilment and happiness can lead ineluctably to tragedy. Subtle, clear-sighted, and compassionate.” —J M Coetzee
“A beautiful novel.” —Grazia
“[Written] with a refreshingly guileless passion…Guelfenbein is a steely truth-teller. —Financial Times
“The subject of this profound and intricate novel is the irreducible mystery at the core of every human person, the buried lines of history and desire that render us inscrutable even to ourselves. Carla Guelfenbein is an important and powerful writer, and this translation is a gift to English-language readers.” — Garth Greenwell, author of What Belongs to You