Synopses & Reviews
In Carlos Rojas’s imaginative novel, the Spanish poet Federico García Lorca, murdered by Francoist rebels in August 1936, finds himself in an inferno that somehow resembles Breughel’s Tower of Babel. He sits alone in a small theater in this private hell, viewing scenes from his own life performed over and over and over. Unexpectedly, two doppelgängers appear, one a middle-aged Lorca, the other an irascible octogenarian self, and the poet faces a nightmarish confusion of alternative identities and destinies.
Carlos Rojas uses a fantastic premise—García Lorca in hell—to reexamine the poet’s life and speculate on alternatives to his tragic end. Rojas creates with a surrealist’s eye and a moral philosopher’s mind. He conjures a profoundly original world, and in so doing earns a place among such international peers as Gabriel García Márquez, Philip Roth, J. M. Coetzee, and José Saramago.
"Rojas reinvigorates the martyred Spanish poet from the inside. Lorca, murdered in 1936 by Francoist rebels, narrates his own postmortem odyssey in energetic prose, full of vivid imagery and provocative discussion. In 'The Spiral,' the first of four juicy chapters, Lorca is new to this place that Rojas calls Hell and full of observations. In the first few pages, he refers to 'Al Capone's charity soup,' Nazi sculptor Arno Breker, and the confrontation of Ulysses and Achilles. Sometimes Hell is Lorca's own personal theater where he can view key incidents from his past; sometimes it's a kind of cafe where he can debate with ghosts and figures from his life, which are not always the same thing. Lorca is arrested in this underworld and pressed to devise a strategy for defending his life. The warning sentence 'Prepare for your trial' is repeated more than a dozen times in chapter two, 'The Arrest.' Lorca does indeed go on trial, and does come to gain an understanding of his life in a larger context; and so, of course, does the reader. The richness of Rojas's writing isn't random creativity; it's rooted in a deep and insightful knowledge of his subject, making the book exceptional." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
“The richness of Rojass writing isnt random creativity; its rooted in a deep and insightful knowledge of his subject, making the book exceptional.” -Publishers Weekly, starred review
“Mr. Rojas includes a number of shrewd homages to his subject, from echoes of poems to the kind of story-within-a-story structures that Lorca used in his dramas. But more important, this moving tribute cuts to the heart of the dichotomy of the poet's troubled immortality.” —Sam Sacks, The Wall Street Journal
“In Carlos Rojas' splendid and wildly creative novel, The Ingenious Gentleman and Poet Federico Garcia Lorca Ascends to Hell, the dead writer watches his last, fateful days replayed in a private theater in the underworld. . . as intelligent and audacious a meditation on art, fate and mortality as anyone could hope to read.” —Los Angeles Times
A modern Spanish masterpiece by one of the most extraordinary novelists of our time
A masterpiece by one of the most extraordinary writers of the twentieth century, this novel explores the identity and destiny of beloved Spanish poet García Lorca, who finds himself in hell watching his entire life replayed—but not as it happened.
About the Author
A novelist, an art historian, and since the age of fifty a creator of visual works of art, Carlos Rojas is Charles Howard Candler Professor of Spanish Emeritus at Emory University. He has received numerous important Spanish literary prizes, including the Premio Nadal. Edith Grossman is a renowned translator of works by major Latin American and Peninsular writers.