Published by: Spain Sexto Piso / France Éditions Jose Corti / USA Other Press / Italy Edizioni Erickson
Xavier Villaurrutia Award, 2019
Roger Caillois Prize
After an accident —or “the misfortune” as his cancer-ridden father’s caretaker, Celeste, calls it— Eduardo is sentenced to a year of community service reading to the elderly and disabled. Stripped of his driver’s license and feeling impotent as he nears thirty-five, he leads a dull, lonely life, chatting occasionally with the waitresses of a local restaurant or walking the streets of Cuernavaca. Once a quiet town known for its lush gardens and swimming pools, the “City of Eternal Spring” is now plagued by robberies, kidnappings, and the other myriad forms of violence bred by drug trafficking.
At first, Eduardo seems unable to connect. He movingly reads the words of Dostoyevsky, Henry James, Daphne du Maurier, and more, but doesn’t truly understand them. His eccentric listeners—including two brothers, one mute, who moves his lips while the other acts as ventriloquist; deaf parents raising children they don’t know are hearing; and a beautiful, wheelchair-bound mezzo soprano—sense his detachment. Then Eduardo comes across a poem his father had copied by the Mexican poet Isabel Fraire, and it affects him as no literature has before.
Through these fascinating characters, like the practical, quick-witted Celeste, who intuitively grasps poetry even though she never learned to read, Fabio Morábito shows how art can help us rediscover meaning in a corrupt, unequal society.
No matter how unsuccessful or strange their lives are, they reveal communication problems that are almost magical. The story is a well-constructed novel, a happy and joyfully fantastic sadness that does not solve all these problems; but poetry does. Philippe Lançon
First, the tempting promise of an almost existential discovery, then bewilderment, subtle humor, and then everything in this story that seemed small and simple strikes back with extraordinary resonance. What a pleasure it always is to read Morábito. Samanta Schweblin
Morábito taught us that writing is about playing with sounds. Emiliano Monge
In the tradition of the wittiest and wisest Mexican storytellers such as Jorge Ibargüengoitia, Juan Villoro, and Juan Pablo Villalobos, Fabio Morábito has written a fable about contemporary Mexico that is both hilariously entertaining and soberingly profound. Antonio Ruiz-Camacho
A satisfying fable, at once satiric and soulful, of a literary awakening in Mexico…this idiosyncratic performance will keep its audience rapt. Publishers Weekly
Home Reading Service is exceptional. Asymptote