Zenosbooks

Di Benedetto, Antonio. The Silentiary. New York. 2022. New York Review of Books. 9781681375625. Translated from the Spanish by Esther Allen. Introduction by Juan Jose Saer. 166 pages. paperback. Cover image: Joaquin Torres-Garcia, ‘Composition’, 1931. Cover design: Katy Homans.  

 

9781681375625FROM THE PUBLISHER -

 

In post-WWII South America, a struggling writer embarks on a murderous thought experiment to help kickstart his career in this next tale of longing from the author of Zama. The Silentiary takes place in a nameless Latin American city during the early 1950s. A young man employed in middle management entertains an ambition to write a book of some sort. But first he must establish the necessary precondition, which the crowded and noisily industrialized city always denies him, however often he and his mother and wife move in search of it. He thinks of embarking on his writing career with something simple, a detective novel, and ponders the possibility of choos- ing a victim among the people he knows and planning a crime as if he himself were the killer. That way, he hopes, his book might finally begin to take shape. The Silentiary, along with Zama and The Suicides, is one of the three thematically linked novels by Di Benedetto that have come to be known as the Trilogy of Expectation, after the dedication "To the victims of expectation" in Zama. Together they constitute, in Juan José Saer's words, "one of the culminating moments of twentieth-century narrative fiction in Spanish."
Antonio di Benedetto (2 November 1922 in Mendoza – 10 October 1986 in Buenos Aires) was an Argentine journalist and writer.

 

Di Benedetto AntonioDi Benedetto began writing and publishing stories in his teens, inspired by the works of Fyodor Dostoevsky and Luigi Pirandello. Mundo Animal, appearing in 1952, was his first story collection and won prestigious awards. A revised version came out in 1971, but the Xenos Books translation uses the first edition to catch the youthful flavor. Antonio di Benedetto wrote five novels, the most famous being the existential masterpiece Zama (1956). El Silenciero (The Silencer, 1964) is noteworthy for expressing his intense abhorrence of noise. Critics have compared his works to Alain Robbe-Grillet, Julio Cortázar and Ernesto Sábato. In 1976, during the military dictatorship of General Videla, di Benedetto was imprisoned and tortured. Released a year later, he went into exile in Spain, then returned home in 1984. He travelled widely and won numerous awards, but never acquired the worldwide fame of other Latin American writers, perhaps because his work was not translated to many languages. Esther Allen has translated Javier Marías, Jorge Luis Borges, Felisberto Hernández, Flaubert, Rosario Castellanos, Blaise Cendrars, Marie Darrieussecq, and José Martí. She currently teaches at Baruch College (CUNY) and has directed the work of the PEN Translation Fund since its founding in 2003. Allen has received a Fulbright Grant and two National Endowment for the Arts Translation Fellowships, and in 2006 was named a Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters.

 


 

 

 


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