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The Scale of Mapsby Belen Gopegui
Synopses & Reviews
Sergio Prim is a staid, middle-aged geographer. The romantic advances of Brezo Varela, a lively young woman who shares his profession, induce a series of terrifying hallucinations from which he attempts to seek refuge by immersing himself in the quest to map a place in which love never results in disillusionment. A lyrical examination of language, imagination, and desire.
Belén Gopegui burst onto the Spanish literary scene in 1993, bowling over critics with her masterful debut La escala de los mapas (The Scale of Maps), which was hailed as a masterpiece. This is her first work translated into English.
"A geographer falls irredeemably in love with a flighty mapmaker in this graceful, peculiar Spanish tale. Sergio Prim, at 39 a self-described 'small man' set in his bachelor ways, has begun an affair with a woman nine years his junior, Brezo Varela, whose vitality and passion for Sergio astonish him and wreak havoc on his orderly life. Being loved so fiercely by Brezo has disoriented him, and the narrative moves between the third and first person, depending on Sergio's increasingly unstable state. His instinct is to slip away and find his 'hollow,' a sanctuary safe from intrusion, 'unencumbered by worry and marked by an intimate and benign invisibility.' He takes off, ostensibly to do research in the mountains of Cuenca, and is haunted by thoughts of Brezo, even seeking the advice of a psychologist, while Brezo, wary of his absence, takes up with a Basque jai alai player. Gopegui's work is beautifully composed and elegantly translated, though Sergio's fundamental elusiveness leaves the reader empty-handed and lovelorn, which, depending on the reader, will be a disappointment or a stroke of brilliance. (Feb.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
"A geographer falls irredeemably in love with a flighty mapmaker in this graceful, peculiar Spanish tale . . . beautifully composed and elegantly translated." --Publishers Weekly
"Map scales are about relationships. So is “The Scale of Maps,” a poignant, provocative, profound and passionate book by respected Spanish writer Belén Gopegui." --The Kansas City Star, http://www.kansascity.com/2011/02/19/2663649/review-the-scale-of-maps.html
"'Trembling' is how protagonist Sergio Prim first appears to the reader. 'His hands fluttered like a bashful magician’s,' the Spaniard Belen Gopegui writes of her fictional creation. Gopegui’s first novel, The Scale of Maps, is a story about a magic trick that Prim never quite masters, an ambitious disappearing act that ends in irredeemable failure. After all, as another character, the enchanting mapmaker Brezo Varela, warns Prim, 'the problem with escape artists is that they never escape.' ". . . Who is this strange man charting a fantastical, solitary course? Gopegui has been compared to Cervantes and Nabokov, and it’s easy to see Prim as a kind of windmill-battling Pnin. Prim’s labyrinthine imaginings could easily place him in a work of Borges as well. ". . . Mark Schafer’s agile translation gives Prim the fitting voice of a polished academic who has lost his bearings. 'The man who examines his own love is like the merchant who sells perishable foods,' Prim suggests inscrutably. Is the reader to understand that Prim’s survival depends on his ability to shill the ripened fruits of his passion before they spoil? And to whom is he selling the harvest of his inspection? It’s just one of many alluring metaphors that quietly collapse upon inspection, evading scrutiny." --Words without Borders http://wordswithoutborders.org/book-review/belen-gopeguis-the-scale-of-maps/
"It’s an ambitious novel, to be sure, made beautiful by Gopegui’s liquid prose, and made accessible by her ultimate refusal to answer her own questions." --Janet Potter, Bookslut
A novel and its protagonist create one another, in a tale strung between the work of Cervantes and Nabokov.
About the Author
Belén Gopegui: Belén Gopegui was born in Madrid in October 1963. In 1993, she burst onto the Spanish literary scene with her first novel, La escala de los mapa [The Scale of Maps]. Her masterful debut bowled over critics, winning both the Tigre Juan Prize and the Santiago del Nuevo Extremo” Iberoamerican Prize for First Novel. Since then, Gopegui has published six more novels, and her work has been translated into French, Italian, Portuguese, German, Polish, Turkish, Serbian, Finnish, and Dutch.
Mark Schafer: Mark Schafer is a literary translator and visual artist who lives in Roxbury, Massachusetts and teaches Spanish and Translation at the University of Massachusetts Boston. Schafer has translated novels, short stories, essays, and poetry by other Latin American authors including Gloria Gervitz, Alberto Ruy Sánchez, Jesús Gardea, Eduardo Galeano, and Antonio José Ponte. Schafer has received numerous grants and awards for his translations, including the Robert Fitzgerald Prize and two Translation Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts. Schafer edited and translated the anthology Before Saying Any of the Great Words: Selected Poetry of David Huerta, which was published in January 2009 by Copper Canyon Press.
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