Synopses & Reviews
Alienation, belonging, and a woman’s 1,000-mile journey across the Andes to visit her dying uncle in Argentina.
Cat sitter, insomniac, former schoolteacher. Ania worries she is a “stand-in occupant,” a substitute in her own life. When she receives a request from her father to visit her dying uncle Agustín in Argentina, she makes the long journey across the Andes from Chile to Campana, where her family immigrated from Italy. Her trip, one she used to make every summer with her father, will be an escape from the present and a journey to the borders of memory.
What follows is an ambitious portrait of alienation and belonging, and of two families and countries separated by a range of mountains. Threaded together with encyclopedia entries, pages from an old immigrant manual, typing class exercises, passages from children’s books, half-faded photos, and letters mailed between continents, The Touch System introduces Alejandra Costamagna as one of the most powerful and subtle writers in contemporary Latin American literature.
“Alejandra Costamagna’s characters embody that semblance of truth that provokes that famous and pleasant confusion; the genuine miracle of literature: what happens when life seems to be inside of the book; when the characters seem so real that for a long and valuable second we become, along with the book that is in our hands, less real.” Alejandro Zambra
"The Touch System is a novel that condenses the virtues of all Alejandra Costamagna’s previous works: a work in between memory and imagination, the question of origins, the recurrence of family and, of course, a stylistic condensation that is distinctive of a great writer.” El País
“A mandatory reference in contemporary Chileans — one might say even Latin American — literature... a literary voice that invites us to revisit our own lives with a new look.” El Espectador
“Alejandra Costamagna writes with precise and lethal finesse on excesses. In these stories of obsession, pleasure, violence and illness, words are like scalpels that dissect trembling, furious bodies, sometimes overwhelmed by their own desire.” Mariana Enríquez, author of Things We Lost in the Fire
About the Author
Alejandra Costamagna was born in Santiago, Chile, in 1970. She is the author of four novels, four collections of short stories, and an anthology of newspaper columns. Her work has been translated into Italian, Korean and French, and since 2010, she has been a member of the editorial committee in the Chilean independent publishing house Cuneta. She lives in Santiago de Chile.
Lisa Dillman translates from Spanish and Catalan and teaches in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at Emory University. Some of her recent translations include Such Small Hands by Andrés Barba, Signs Preceding the End of the World by Yuri Herrera, which won the Best Translated Book Award, and Monastery, co-translated with Daniel Hahn, by Eduardo Halfon. She lives in Decatur, GA.
Jeremy Garber on PowellsBooks.Blog
From the Syrian Civil War to linked novellas by a 19th-century Austrian writer to the short stories of an early to mid-20th-century Hungarian nobleman, from a “feminist inversion of a domestic drama crossed with Oulipian nursery rhyme” to the conclusions of two wildly different trilogies (one French, one German), from Chile to Korea, Japan to Spain, the month of May offers a trove of newly translated fiction from abroad...