“An avant-garde literature that combines the impossible with the real, a literature in which every statement of fact suggests its opposite and even casual observations and plot twists are turned upside down.” (Michael Greenburg - The New York Review of Books)
“Varamo, like all the Aira books in translation, is charming and infuriating, built of plain prose that blooms without warning into carbuncular visions.” (Ben Raliff - The New York Times Book Review)
“Aira's prose can be slapdash, but the book teems with delightful, off-the-cuff metaphysical speculation.” (The New Yorker)
“Aira's literary significance, like that of many other science fiction writers, comes from how he pushes us to question the porous line between fact and fantasy, to see it not only as malleable in history, but also blurred in the everyday. The engrossing power of his work, though, comes from how he carries out these feats: with the inexhaustible energy and pleasure of a child chasing after imaginary enemies in the park.” (Los Angeles Review of Books)
“The book is structured around a series of chance encounters, while also giving Aira some asides on broader concepts like the nature of perception, the promises of narrative form, and human thought.” (Publishers Weekly)
“The novel, in enacting the criticism it mocks, is playful and clever.” (The Rumpus)
“Each element Aira draws our attention to is placed into sharp focus before being discussed in short, entertaining digressions. If anything, the book implies a distrust of the very notion of plot, a comfort with play, and that is why I feel it grasps something of value. Once again Aira has given us a series of memorable, highly interpretable images held together by gossamer strings of meaning.” (The National)
“The latest English translation in Aira’s enormous corpus, Varamo accommodates his fondness for mixing metaphysics, realism, pulp fiction, and an attention to the raw strangeness of life’s ordinary details... The eccentricity of plot here is its own pleasure, but the slow, carefully written digressions it enfolds are what make the work such extravagant fun.” (Alice Whitwam - Coffin Factory)
“Slim, cerebral, witty, fanciful, and idiosyncratic.” (Boston Review)
“With a light, almost hypnotic style, Aira creates an intriguing balance between realism and comedic absurdity.” (Critical Mob)
“The overriding impression of Varamo is one of facility that dips periodically into facileness. Aira encounters the elements of his story as Varamo stumbles upon his masterpiece, by chance, as objets trouvés, and enjoyable as it is to see each pulled in turn from the hat, even a short novel built on such a principle can’t help but demonstrate the principle’s limits. Flaubert, the presiding genius of literature as sealed artifact, once claimed that he took such endless pains with his style precisely because was not naturally gifted with words. Aira is a manifestly gifted writer who may find writing all too easy a job.” (Quarterly Conversation)
About the Author
César Aira was born in Coronel Pringles, Argentina, in 1949. Wildly popular in Latin America, he has published more than seventy books of short fictions and essays.
The poet Chris Andrews has translated many books by Roberto Bolaño and César Aira for New Directions.