Ordesa - a small Spanish town in the Pyrenees - is where our narrator was born, a place his father loved dearly, a place suffused with memories. Now, forty-six years later, he returns to the valley with his own children on a summer vacation. His parents are dead, his marriage has ended and he's struggling to piece together the bits of himself.
Single and living in an apartment he hates, clinging to snatched moments of quality time with his apathetic children, newly sober and with his career on the wane, the ghosts of the narrator's family besiege him, but also bring him hope. Out of despair, he writes this chronicle, this homage, this memoir of his family: grandparents whose photos were never taken, whose funerals were never attended, parents unable to show their love. Maybe the tragedy of life itself is not death, but truly realising the importance of family only once they've passed. Perhaps this trip to Ordesa can help him fall in love with life - his life - once more.
A masterwork of autofiction from Spanish literary icon Manuel Vilas, Ordesa is a deeply moving meditation on identity, nationality, family, loss and the passing of time.
Publisher: Canongate Books Ltd
Number of pages: 304
Weight: 418 g
Dimensions: 220 x 144 x 29 mm
Vilas paints an affecting portrait of a middle-aged man alone - divorced, estranged from his children, his parents deceased - and attempting to chronicle his childhood. A persistent sense of longing for that which is lost pervades the book, making it feel particularly fitting this year * * Vanity Fair * *
The narrator of this sober yet elegant autobiographical novel is a middle-aged man reckoning with his past and with his encroaching mortality. Painfully observant and poetically inclined * * New Yorker * *
Ordesa is a smack in the chops and a swim in the sea, a desolate memento mori and a warm, consoling hug . . . There is so much love in this book, for life and for language, that it bursts the seams even in translation. If you're remotely responsive to this, it will make a holy mess of you * * Herald * *
Vilas has written a book that is soaked through with humanity. An intimate, comforting, painful and deeply beautiful tour de force. He is an enhancer of life -- JAMES RHODES author of INSTRUMENTAL
One of Spain's finest modern writers . . . [Ordesa] offers a humane and intimate account of his divorce, family problems, and addictions * * Independent, Books of the Month * *
Ordesa is a poet's novel, or maybe a novelist's prose poem. It's both things at once, and also the saddest and most candid autobiography I've read in recent times. I've been through this book twice and I still don't know how Vilas does it. I know, however, that this book is a gift, and maybe that's enough -- JUAN GABRIEL VASQUEZ, author of THE SHAPE OF THE RUINS
Becomes a way of looking honestly at what mourning really feels like - some of [Vilas'] observations on grief, along with the self-hatred and guilt that can follow a death, will strike a chord with anyone who has experienced a similar rupture -- Lucy Ellmann * * Guardian * *
A philosophically brave and emotionally-intelligent novel par excellence. There is rigour in the thought and deep scrutiny in the lyrical musings and reflections, which make it surely a classic which has sought no easy route to the reader's soul * * RTE * *
This is the album, the archive, the memory without lies or consolation of a life, a time, a family, a social class condemned to so much effort for very little obtained. A lot of precision is needed to tell these things, the acid, the sharpened knife, the exact needle to burst the balloon of vanity. What's left in the end is the clean emotion of truth and the distress of everything lost -- ANTONIO MUNOZ MOLINA author of the Man Booker International Prize-shortlisted LIKE A FADING SHADOW
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