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La Mediana Edad (Middle Age)
Pablo Casacuberta introduces us to the labyrinthine mind of Tobias: a fifty-year-old who lives with his mother and suffers from hypochondria. This double condition of always feeling sick and living isolated with his mother, plus the void left by an absent father -the circumstances of whose death are revealed to us and to our hero only by the end- has led him to develop an extreme dependence on his family doctor: a homeopath with a vast clientele of mostly old ladies, who completely disbelieves the efficacy of his own preparations.
Developing over the course of just one -very long- day, little seems to happen in this novel in which we are invited to lose ourselves in the multiple associations of the mind of Tobias. But a surprise moment unleashes an unexpected turn of events and the novel acquires another rhythm: that of real life. A philosophical novel and an atypical Bildungsroman, where with linguistic virtuosity and a great sense of humour, Casacuberta confronts the eternal tensions between the world of ideas and beliefs with that of factual truth and scientific thought.
73,000 words ca. – Original language: Spanish – Rights Sold: French (Métailié, 2019)
Lazarus works in a museum. He photographs desiccated insects, which he then carefully places in prepared scenarios simulating certain vitality. The train on which he is travelling with destination unknown, enters an absolutely black tunnel. Why does the train stop? And who is the mysterious woman that appears to Lazarus in a lens store?
Everything is guarded, everything is closed in Lazarus’ world. A man capable of putting all his hopes in an image, a projection of his own mind, as if it were possible for one’s own interior darkness to be the force to show the way towards the light.
“With El Mar (The Sea) Pablo Casacuberta continues opening the doors of perception, shaping the invisible through an almost magical use of language” – Mario Levrero.
“Direct, visual language, tremendously persuasive, connects the initial realism of the plot with a specific area of the fantastic, and then moves on to a symbolic level, thus multiplying possible readings” – Mercedes Estramil.
168 pages – Original language: Spanish (Estuario Editorial, Montevideo, 2000 and 2015) – Rights Sold: French (Métailé)
The protagonist of this novel by Pablo Casacuberta is not Scipio – the Roman general hero of the Carthage campaign and conqueror of Hannibal in 202 BC – but that ancient history is not entirely absent from its plot. Aníbal Brener, the son of a prestigious historian, a specialist on the History of the Roman Empire, has always had a troubled relationship with his father. An historian like him, Aníbal has gone from failure to failure until finally he is outdone by alcohol and abandon. Two years after the death of his father – whose funeral he missed – he receives the news that the will leaves him with much of his father’s property, provided that certain conditions are met. Narrated by Aníbal, the novel is a gripping investigation of the tensions present in a father-son relationship where love and hate, authoritarianism and humiliation, envy and cruelty co-exist.
As in Casacuberta’s previous novel (Aquí y ahora), this is a coming of age novel, even though its narrator is an adult, one who has refused, or has not managed, to grow up. His story is a tale of discovery and of healing: the discovery of the father’s fragility and of his own identity, one that can only be defined as a reflection of the relation with the father.
Escipión shows us an author at his full creative maturity. One that comfortably tackles a universal theme of strong classic resonances with irony and a kind of humour that elevates his discerning ability.
304 pages – Original language: Spanish (Editorial Trilce, Montevideo, 2010) – Rights Sold: French (Métailié), Croatian (Bozicevic), Spanish (451 Editores)
Aquí y ahora
A top class employee for a world-class hotel. The Samarcanda hotel recruits a new stable man. Máximo, seventeen years, three-hair beard, determined to get out of childhood, puts himself forward. A lonely teenager, obsessive, fond of scientific journals and fascinated by thought processes, he is convinced that this experience will be his real entry into the adult world.
As it often happens however, nothing is in line with expectations, and that is not necessarily a bad thing. The more our hero grows, the more the mysterious and exciting world around him shrinks. The only way to cope will be to live in it here and now!
Pablo Casacuberta depicts with touching insight the loneliness of adolescence, the suffocating desire for love, the terror of never being taken seriously. This short breath-taking novel, splendidly written, is one of the best things we have ever read on the delicate art of growing.
“Pablo Casacuberta at the top of its narrative maturity: spare style, simplicity of story, edgy emotion. The
good reader will retain this brief novel as a happy personal experience.” – Mario Levrero
180 pages – Original language: Spanish (Aurora Editorial, Montevideo, 2002) – Rights Sold: French (Métailié), Spanish (Ediciones Era, Mexico)
The Miserere of the Crocodiles takes us into the world of violent criminals and high level corruption of a cold, grey and dirty Montevideo. Germán, an eternal reoffender accused of a kidnapping, comes out of jail thanks to the manoeuvrings of a newly appointed, shady lawyer. There is a condition to his release however: he will need to help assaulting an armoured truck stuffed full of cash. The crime is planned, an investigation is developed by a somewhat self-doubting detective, various levels of corruption are observed while a number of only apparently secondary characters take centre stage. In particular, the splendid and vengeful Úrsula, a strong anti-heroine -representing a subversion of dominant feminine aesthetics- determined to overcome any challenge, inside or outside the law.
228 pages – Original language: Spanish (Estuario Editora, Montevideo, 2016) – Rights Sold: German (Unionsverlag, 2018)
Peruvian Coast, 1823. In the middle of the war of independence against Spain, a troop of shipwrecked patriots must face survival in hostile conditions, and on the brink of hunger and delirium. Among them is colonel Carlos Federico de Brandsen, an outstanding French cavalry officer who after the defeat of Waterloo accepts to travel to the New World to fight for the independence of the young American republics. He crosses the Andes and fights in Chile and then in Peru.
Defeats and failures however eat into the spirit of loyalty to the cause, with the group facing marches through inhospitable landscapes, ghost towns and inclement snowfalls, plus an enemy army stalking them. The harsh experiences turn hallucinatory, fate leaves many on the verge of death, hunger alters the soldiers’ senses (they eat their own clothes) and survival is not always based on moral precepts. Brandsen’s health also deteriorates, he has visions and confuses the wars in which he has fought, so beginning his descent into madness.