The Literary Dreamscapes of Enrique Vila-Matas

Okay, okay. Enrique Vila-Matas is from Barcelona, which is not exactly part of Latin America. But I’ll make an exception to my extremely staunch editorial policy to mention that his latest novel, Dublinesca, was just released by Seix Barral – and has already been slated for publication in English in 2011 by New Directions (US) and Harvill (UK).

In an essay for The Quarterly Conversation on Bartleby & Co. and Montano’s Malady, Scott Esposito describes Vila-Matas’s work as the logical offshoot of high modernism (high postmodernism?), in which the canonical works of Western literature are employed not as models, but as cultural signs to be manipulated and expanded upon:

The literary giants he draws on are almost all great modernists or progenitors of modernist writing […] It may be that Vila-Matas is doing parasitical work, is simply filling in the gaps, but […] in these novels, it can be far more interesting and far more original most of what it currently being published.

Dublinesca seems to follow in this tradition; the title suggests James Joyce’s seminal collection, and the work as a whole can be read as a tapesty woven from both real and apocryphal source texts. The review of the book in La nación suggests that the work is also a meditation on the limits of the literary world that the author constructs and by which he is absorbed. Being lauded as a “masterpiece” and the “best and most ambicious work” produced by Vila-Matas, Dublinesca will be one to look out for.

For more on the author, I’d recommend a stop on his web page (he’s apparently designed a multimedia experience to accompany the new book, as well). And here he is in action: Enrique Vila-Matas in conversation with Paul Auster at last year’s PEN World Voices.

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