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BARILOCHE by Andrés Neuman
Translated by Robin Myers
For twenty-five years, Bariloche has sat untranslated, lost in the shadow of Andrés Neuman’s considerable success in the Anglophone world. This despite it having been lauded by Roberto Bolaño. Perhaps it was dismissed as his apprenticeship novel - Neuman was only twenty two when it was published - or maybe inertia gave rise to an insatiability for new work. Either way, it’s a shame because few writers arrive on the scene so fully formed as Neuman.
Bariloche is a wonderful little novel, with Neuman already showing his uncanny knack for understanding and deeply caring for those who we - and literature - often overlook. The story of Demetrio, a garbage collector who does the rounds each morning with his friend El Negro, Bariloche plays with time, perspective and memory in delightful and challenging ways. Elements shift and fall into place, much like the puzzles Demetrio wrestles with each night, each one depicting his old hometown. That is when he isn’t shtupping El Negro’s wife.
Wistful, funny and deeply humane, Bariloche is about as good a debut as you’ll find. Even if it took a quarter of a century to get to us.
Bariloche by Andrés Neuman (Tr. Robin Myers)
Open Letter, 2023