A couple reviews of Alejandro Zambra’s latest novel, Ways of Going Home. Hoping to read this one soon.
David Varno in Words Without Borders:
Ways of Going Home is the first of Zambra’s novels to be told in the first person. This allows the theme of authorship to feel more personal and immediate, which may offer more to a reader who couldn’t see past the meta-fictional exercises of his past work. There is a shift in tone from the opening, which is set in the aftermath of the 1985 earthquake in Chile when the narrator is just nine, to the middle of the novel when he starts to interrogate the past. At the book’s start, the narrator is amused by graffiti like “Pinochet sucks dick.” By the middle, he confronts his father for becoming reactionary in his old age, recognizing that his parents “were there so we wouldn’t feel afraid. But we weren’t afraid. They were the ones who were afraid.” His criticism of his father stems from a personal complication: the narrator himself feels guilty over, and restless with, his own relatively cushy, uneventful childhood. The dueling, unflattering portraits humanize both father and son.
And Kristine Rabberman at California Literary Review:
Ways of Going Home is above all a novel about stories and the power of telling those stories as a means of understanding, of navigating memories and relationships and coming through the process with some sense of direction for the future. Zambra develops a metafictional structure for the novel, as he moves between telling the fictionalized story of our narrator, and framing it with the story of the author of that story. This author in turn sifts through memories and former relationships in an attempt to come to terms with the past – his past, his parents’ past, and their place in Chile’s past.