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Ways of Going Home: A Novel
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Farrar, Straus and Giroux 2013
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Alejandro Zambra's Ways of Going Home begins with an earthquake, seen through the eyes of an unnamed nine-year-old boy who lives in an undistinguished middleclass housing development in a suburb of Santiago, Chile. When the neighbors camp out overnight, the protagonist gets his first glimpse of Claudia, an older girl who asks him to spy on her uncle Raúl.
In the second section, the protagonist is the writer of the story begun in the first section. His father is a man of few words who claims to be apolitical but who quietly sympathized—to what degree, the author isn't sure—with the Pinochet regime. His reflections on the progress of the novel and on his own life—which is strikingly similar to the life of his novel's protagonist—expose the raw suture of fiction and reality.
Ways of Going Home switches between author and character, past and present, reflecting with melancholy and rage on the history of a nation and on a generation born too late—the generation which, as the author-narrator puts it, learned to read and write while their parents became accomplices or victims. It is the most personal novel to date from Zambra, the most important Chilean author since Roberto Bolaño.

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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
01/08/2013
Language:
English
ISBN:
9781466828209
ASIN:
B008PBYUNO

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Citations

APA Citation (style guide)

Alejandro Zambra. (2013). Ways of Going Home: A Novel. Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Alejandro Zambra. 2013. Ways of Going Home: A Novel. Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Alejandro Zambra, Ways of Going Home: A Novel. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2013.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Alejandro Zambra. Ways of Going Home: A Novel. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2013.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2022. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.

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Date Updated:
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      • value: Coming of age
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      • bioText: Alejandro Zambra is a poet, novelist, and literary critic who was born in Santiago, Chile, in 1975. He is the author of the novels Ways of Going Home, The Private Lives of Trees and Bonsai, which was awarded a Chilean Critics Award for best novel. He was selected as one of Granta's Best of Young Spanish-Language Novelists and was elected to the Bogotá39 list.
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Ways of Going Home
fullDescription

Alejandro Zambra's Ways of Going Home begins with an earthquake, seen through the eyes of an unnamed nine-year-old boy who lives in an undistinguished middleclass housing development in a suburb of Santiago, Chile. When the neighbors camp out overnight, the protagonist gets his first glimpse of Claudia, an older girl who asks him to spy on her uncle Raúl.
In the second section, the protagonist is the writer of the story begun in the first section. His father is a man of few words who claims to be apolitical but who quietly sympathized—to what degree, the author isn't sure—with the Pinochet regime. His reflections on the progress of the novel and on his own life—which is strikingly similar to the life of his novel's protagonist—expose the raw suture of fiction and reality.
Ways of Going Home switches between author and character, past and present, reflecting with melancholy and rage on the history of a nation and on a generation born too late—the generation which, as the author-narrator puts it, learned to read and write while their parents became accomplices or victims. It is the most personal novel to date from Zambra, the most important Chilean author since Roberto Bolaño.

reviews
      • premium: False
      • source: John Freeman, The Boston Globe
      • content:

        "Even IKEA doesn't make so much of so little space as does this young Chilean novelist. His latest book revolves around a quartet of chapters, woven around one thread about a young boy growing up in the Pinochet years and another of the novelist writing his story. In many ways, the book recalls the miniature roominess Philip Roth achieved in his great novel, The Ghost Writer. The stories we tell imagine us as much as us them, Zambra reminds, with the power and intensity of a writer who grew up in the shadow of a terrible war."

      • premium: False
      • source: Chris Barton, The Los Angeles Times
      • content: "Funny, contemplative, and quietly moving, Ways of Going Home pulls off the intoxicating trick of making the world feel smaller in its familiar touchstones found in a time of unique tragedy."
      • premium: False
      • source: Adam Thirlwell, The New York Times Book Review
      • content: "[Zambra's novels] are written with startling talent. And Zambra's latest novel represents, I think, his deepest achievement . . . 'We go home,' Zambra writes, 'and it's as if we were returning from war, but from a war that isn't over.' This is the giant, poignant condition staged by the novel's playful doubleness--the way the best conjuring trick is the one where you're shown how it's done, which in no way contradicts your belief that what you've seen is magic."
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        December 17, 2012
        In this wonderful novel-within-a-novel, Zambra, born in Chile in 1975, contemplates the delayed unease of having grown up during Pinochet’s dictatorship: “While the adults killed or were killed, we drew pictures in the corner.” The book begins with the March 3, 1985, earthquake and is told from the perspective of a nine-year-old boy who, that night, meets Claudia, a girl three years his senior for whom he will spy on his solitary neighbor (who turns out to be Claudia’s father, living incognito). Zambra deftly portrays the anxiety and bravery particular to children who both understand and don’t understand the brutal contexts of their lives. In the second section, an adult writer struggles with the aftermath of a breakup while simultaneously struggling to write the novel that will help him reconcile with his family’s sympathy toward the Pinochet regime. The first section, it turns out, is the writer’s novel, and the boy, conceivably, a variation of his younger self. This two-way mirror effect allows the reader to contemplate the bewilderment of coming-of-age in a terrifying time as well as the guilt and confusion, and attempt to make sense out of impossible choices that may well continue for a lifetime. In the process, Zambra raises thoughtful questions about expectations for and the limitations of the redemptive possibilities of art. Unfortunately, the conclusion feels like a shortcut, less satisfying than the observations of either the boy or the man creating him. Overall, though, this compelling book brings the experiences of a generation to the page with haunting emotion and beautiful prose in a fine translation by McDowell, her second time working with Zambra (after The Private Lives of Trees).

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        October 15, 2012
        How does the experience of dictatorship impact the children, and what is the relationship between writers and their material, asks a noted Chilean novelist. Listed among Granta's Best of Young Spanish-Language Novelists, Zambra (The Private Lives of Trees, 2010, etc.) divides his third novel into two strands: a story of the Pinochet years narrated from a child's perspective; and a meditation by the author of that story on how novelists draw ideas from their own experiences. The unnamed hero of the first element is a 9-year-old boy living in Maipu, near Santiago, in 1985. The night an earthquake hits, he meets Claudia, who asks him to spy on a neighbor, Raul. Twenty years later, when the dictatorship is over, the narrator finds Claudia again, and they become lovers. He also learns that Raul was her father, a political activist who lived apart to protect his family. The author's sections of the book expose the weaving of fragments, reminiscences and relationships into fiction. Writing and writers are discussed, while meanwhile, the author is struggling to mend his marriage to Eme, whose background informs the novel. But when Eme reads the book, she resents the appropriation of her own story, and the relationship founders. Nevertheless, the "necessary and insufficient trade: to spend life watching, writing" continues. A metafictional layer cake of political, technical and poetic reflection--short, deft and striking.

        COPYRIGHT(2012) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        August 1, 2012

        Named one of Granta's Best Young Spanish-Language Novelists and on the prestigious Bogota-39 list as well, Zambra opens with narration by a nine-year-old earthquake survivor; the second part is told by the novelist who's writing the opening story. Energized, politicized metafiction.

        Copyright 2012 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

      • premium: True
      • source: Booklist
      • content:

        Starred review from November 1, 2012
        Readers will find it hard to believe that an author can describe two lives, the philosophy of writing, and a true picture of a historical time, all in 139 pages, but Chilean poet and novelist Zambra accomplishes this with seeming ease and grace. In four sections, he alternates between the life of the unnamed main character of a novel and that of the novel's author. Beginning with an earthquake in Pinochet's Chile, the tale shows a nine-year-old boy meeting the intriguing Claudia, who comes back into his life when he is in his thirties. Interchanging the two stories supports the authorial musings on his own life and marriage as well as his ruminations on the parallels with the novel in progress. The writing is poetically charged, and Zambra's use of the metafiction format allows the author to paint a broad picture of Chile's history over more than 30 years and to describe quite fully the lives of the protagonist and the narrator. The subtle, masterful novel will transcend regional interest and appeal to a broad spectrum of literary readers.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2012, American Library Association.)

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        Starred review from October 1, 2014

        A writer returns to his boyhood home in hopes of rekindling an earlier romance and reconnecting with his family, only to find that it's not easy to go home again.

        Copyright 2014 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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Alejandro Zambra's Ways of Going Home begins with an earthquake, seen through the eyes of an unnamed nine-year-old boy who lives in an undistinguished middleclass housing development in a suburb of Santiago, Chile. When the neighbors camp out overnight, the protagonist gets his first glimpse of Claudia, an older girl who asks him to spy on her uncle Raúl.
In the second section, the protagonist is the writer of the story begun in the first section. His father is a man of few words who claims to be apolitical but who quietly sympathized—to what degree, the author isn't sure—with the Pinochet regime. His reflections on the progress of the novel and on his own life—which is strikingly similar to the life of his novel's protagonist—expose the raw suture of fiction and reality.
Ways of Going Home switches between author and character, past and present, reflecting with melancholy and rage on the history of a nation and on a generation born...

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