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Senselessness

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Senselessness Cover

ISBN13: 9780811217071
ISBN10: 0811217078
All Product Details

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Staff Pick

Senselessness is the first of Castellanos Moya's novels to be translated into English, and though short, it manages to cast a wide net that demands as much from the reader as it does from its central character. In an unnamed Latin American country that resembles Castellanos Moya's own El Salvador, a man is asked to clean up a 1,100-page report on the massacre of the region's indigenous peoples. As he makes his way through the work, he begins to find himself haunted by the gruesome and yet strangely resigned testimonials of the survivors; as a result, he can hardly reconcile the past with the mundane interactions that now occur everyday between the former torturers and their victims.
Recommended by Gin, Powells.com

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

A Rainmaker Translation Grant winner from the Black Mountain Institute. Senselessness, acclaimed Salvadoran author Horacio Castallanos Moya's astounding debut in English, explores horror with hilarity and electrifying panache.

A boozing, sex-obsessed writer finds himself employed by the Catholic Church (an institution he loathes) to proofread a 1,100 page report on the army's massacre and torture of thousands of indigenous villagers a decade earlier, including the testimonies of the survivors. The writer's job is to tidy it up: he rants, "that was what my work was all about, cleaning up and giving a manicure to the Catholic hands that were piously getting ready to squeeze the balls of the military tiger." Mesmerized by the strange Vallejo-like poetry of the Indians' phrases ("the houses they were sad because no people were inside them"), the increasingly agitated and frightened writer is endangered twice over: by the spell the strangely beautiful heart-rending voices exert over his tenuous sanity, and by real danger — after all, the murderers are the very generals who still run this unnamed Latin American country.

Review:

"The first of exiled Honduran novelist Moya's eight fictions to be translated in the U.S., this crushing satire has at its center a feisty young unnamed writer in penurious political exile from an unnamed Latin American country. It opens as he explains the daunting and dangerous freelance job he has taken in an also-unnamed neighboring state: to edit a 1,100-page report prepared for the country's Catholic archdiocese that details the current military regime's torture and murder of thousands of indigenous villagers. The writer despises the Church, but is moved and agitated by the disturbing testimonies of the survivors, at once unspeakable in their horror and unforgettable in their phrasing: 'the more they killed, the higher they rose up.' More or less one long rant, the book's paragraphs go on for pages as the writer gives way to paranoia, and to a sexual longing that his loneliness and powerlessness make nearly unbearable, and that he expresses profanely. It's Moya's genius to make this difficult character seem a product of the same death and disorder documented in the report, as the survivors' voices merge with his own." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"Castellanos Moya's vertices are horror, corruption, and an ordinariness that trembles on every single page he has written, and makes the reader tremble as well." Roberto Bolano

Review:

"Its success hinges on the acerbically comic, darkly spitting voice of the narrator." Aaron Shulman

Review:

"I recommend Horacio Castellanos Moya's fantastic Senselessness, in which a writer takes on the dangerous job of editing a report on military atrocities in an unnamed country. Both a descent into hell and a book about how one becomes human." Tommy Wallach, The World (PRI)

Review:

"The only writer of my generation who knows how to narrate the horror, the secret Vietnam that Latin America was for a long time." Junot Diaz, New York Magazine — Best Books of the Year

Review:

"A brilliantly crafted moral fable, as if Kafka had gone to Latin America for his source materials." Russell Banks

Synopsis:

A Rainmaker Translation Grant Winner from the Black Mountain Institute: Senselessness, acclaimed Salvadoran author Horacio Castallanos Moya's astounding debut in English, explores horror with hilarity and electrifying panache.

Synopsis:

A boozing, sex-obsessed writer finds himself employed by the Catholic Church (an institution he loathes) to proofread a 1,100 page report on the army's massacre and torture of thousands of indigenous villagers a decade earlier, including the testimonies of the survivors. The writer's job is to tidy it up: he rants, "that was what my work was all about, cleaning up and giving a manicure to the Catholic hands that were piously getting ready to squeeze the balls of the military tiger." Mesmerized by the strange Vallejo-like poetry of the Indians' phrases ("the houses they were sad because no people were inside them"), the increasingly agitated and frightened writer is endangered twice over: by the spell the strangely beautiful heart-rending voices exert over his tenuous sanity, and by real danger--after all, the murderers are the very generals who still run this unnamed Latin American country.

About the Author

Horacio Castellanos Moya was born 1957 in Honduras. He has lived in San Salvador, Canada, Costa Rica, Mexico (where he spent ten years as a journalist, editor, and political analyst), Spain, and Germany. In 1988 he won the National Novel Prize from Central American University for his first novel. His work has been published and translated in England, Germany, El Salvador and Costa Rica. He has published eight books and is now part of the City of Asylum project in Pittsburgh and will teach in fall 2008 at the University of Pennsylvania.

Katherine Silver won a PEN Translation Fund Award and an NEA grant for this stunningly vivid translation.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

Adrien-Alice, February 11, 2009 (view all comments by Adrien-Alice)
My book club just read this book and it's great for a solo or group read--the translation captures the part-brutal, part-dreamy language, the central character is absorbing and off-putting, the story is disturbing and entirely intriguing. At 142 pages, it's brief enough to keep the whole book in mind as the central character is inexorably changed by the experiences of this long-gone genocide and the culture that seems to not have been changed by it at all.

It's smart, it's funnier than it has any right to be and shifted my understanding of the world just a little.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780811217071
Author:
Castellanos Moya, Horacio
Publisher:
New Directions Publishing Corporation
Translator:
Silver, Katherine
Author:
Silver, Katherine
Author:
Moya, Horacio Castellanos
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Series:
NEW DIRECTIONS PAPERBOOK
Publication Date:
20080531
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
160
Dimensions:
8 x 5.3 x 0.5 in 0.4 lb

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Senselessness New Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$15.95 In Stock
Product details 160 pages New Directions Publishing Corporation - English 9780811217071 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

Senselessness is the first of Castellanos Moya's novels to be translated into English, and though short, it manages to cast a wide net that demands as much from the reader as it does from its central character. In an unnamed Latin American country that resembles Castellanos Moya's own El Salvador, a man is asked to clean up a 1,100-page report on the massacre of the region's indigenous peoples. As he makes his way through the work, he begins to find himself haunted by the gruesome and yet strangely resigned testimonials of the survivors; as a result, he can hardly reconcile the past with the mundane interactions that now occur everyday between the former torturers and their victims.

"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "The first of exiled Honduran novelist Moya's eight fictions to be translated in the U.S., this crushing satire has at its center a feisty young unnamed writer in penurious political exile from an unnamed Latin American country. It opens as he explains the daunting and dangerous freelance job he has taken in an also-unnamed neighboring state: to edit a 1,100-page report prepared for the country's Catholic archdiocese that details the current military regime's torture and murder of thousands of indigenous villagers. The writer despises the Church, but is moved and agitated by the disturbing testimonies of the survivors, at once unspeakable in their horror and unforgettable in their phrasing: 'the more they killed, the higher they rose up.' More or less one long rant, the book's paragraphs go on for pages as the writer gives way to paranoia, and to a sexual longing that his loneliness and powerlessness make nearly unbearable, and that he expresses profanely. It's Moya's genius to make this difficult character seem a product of the same death and disorder documented in the report, as the survivors' voices merge with his own." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "Castellanos Moya's vertices are horror, corruption, and an ordinariness that trembles on every single page he has written, and makes the reader tremble as well."
"Review" by , "Its success hinges on the acerbically comic, darkly spitting voice of the narrator."
"Review" by , "I recommend Horacio Castellanos Moya's fantastic Senselessness, in which a writer takes on the dangerous job of editing a report on military atrocities in an unnamed country. Both a descent into hell and a book about how one becomes human."
"Review" by , "The only writer of my generation who knows how to narrate the horror, the secret Vietnam that Latin America was for a long time."
"Review" by , "A brilliantly crafted moral fable, as if Kafka had gone to Latin America for his source materials."
"Synopsis" by , A Rainmaker Translation Grant Winner from the Black Mountain Institute: Senselessness, acclaimed Salvadoran author Horacio Castallanos Moya's astounding debut in English, explores horror with hilarity and electrifying panache.
"Synopsis" by , A boozing, sex-obsessed writer finds himself employed by the Catholic Church (an institution he loathes) to proofread a 1,100 page report on the army's massacre and torture of thousands of indigenous villagers a decade earlier, including the testimonies of the survivors. The writer's job is to tidy it up: he rants, "that was what my work was all about, cleaning up and giving a manicure to the Catholic hands that were piously getting ready to squeeze the balls of the military tiger." Mesmerized by the strange Vallejo-like poetry of the Indians' phrases ("the houses they were sad because no people were inside them"), the increasingly agitated and frightened writer is endangered twice over: by the spell the strangely beautiful heart-rending voices exert over his tenuous sanity, and by real danger--after all, the murderers are the very generals who still run this unnamed Latin American country.

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