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Ways of Going Home: A Novel Hardcover – January 8, 2013


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 1ST edition (January 8, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374286647
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374286644
  • Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 5.4 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #912,516 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* 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. --Ellen Loughran

From Bookforum

Ways of Going Home elevates Zambra to the status of living writers we "simply must read," like Denis Johnson, Lydia Davis, and Mary Gaitskill. His voice is as natural and intimate as Roberto Bolaño's, an obvious but healthy influence, and his subjects—love, memory, death, and guilt—are as big as he can find. —Clancy Martin

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Book Dork VINE VOICE on April 8, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I'm not sure how I even heard of this novella but Alejandro Zambra, but it was definitely an interesting piece.

Going home... to a warm bed, nice people, and homemade dinner:
- I loved the blurred lines of author, narrator/writer, and character. It's the quintessential question that good fiction should bring up: what is true and what is not?
- I appreciate the length- I think that people may complain about the lack of depth in the characters or plot, but one must remember that it is a novella. Zambra tells us what we need to know- a sort of trust is necessary when dealing with shorter works.
- It's story about going home- when do we need to, how do we get there, and most importantly, what does staying entail (physically and mentally)?
- It's also a story about a break up, on two levels (both in real life and in the book he writes; in a way it is just one, though). It isn't a highly emotional break up with pages of laments, but instead one that is hauntingly sad and simplistically complicated.

Going Home... to your friend's couch, ramen, and a cat who hates you:
- I had hoped for a little more of Chilean history to matter, to impact. I felt like it was set up in the beginning to be more of a force, but it really hung in the background.
- I thought some of the tie-ins and connections towards the end were a little sloppy.

I thought this was a quick, interesting read, but, to be honest, I'd wait until it comes into paperback- the price is pretty steep for what it is.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Luzviminda on May 22, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I found the characters interesting, especially the narrator - he has a lot of wise things to say about mundane as well as important things - like parent-children relationships, etc. but i was not engaged in the narrative which is a series of visits to former homes and neighborhoods, meeting girlfriends, relatives, friends and just chatting over the past. True, there is a little mystery thrown and the narrator gets a chance to be an unpaid 'spy' but it's just a little game this girl, Claudia, wants to play; it's not enough to grip me. Excellent translation, though.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Cassandra on May 12, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
This brief, 160-pages long novella looks at the recent past of Chile's Pinochet years, through the point of view of a now-adult who grew up in the 80s. I find it fascinating, this question of how we consider the recent past: too long ago for us to be directly implicated in it; too near for us to be unaffected.

The key character in `Ways of going home' (Zambra's 3rd novel) is a Chilean man (the narrator) who looks back at his childhood years in Santiago, at the time the Pinochet regime was in full swing. Time is the central theme of this book, as well as the parallel, shifting points of view of adults and children: what did the boy understand as a child about his parents' stance in terms of the dictatorship? How does he look back at events (e.g. adult discussions) as an adult now himself? Zambra creates a thought-provoking world where the child and adult perspectives and memories overlap at times, while at other times they take different directions.

The story begins during an evening when there's a strong earthquake in Santiago, bringing the boy together with a neighbourhood girl, Claudia, who guides him in directions that will stay with him for life. Years later, Claudia, after being lost from him for a long time, reappears into his life and the reader is left with questions about reality and fantasy. Indeed, `Ways of going home' can be seen precisely as this: some thoughts about what's really true and what's true only in our minds; some thoughts about how to deal with the past when it turns out it's unthinkable and we didn't know it; some thoughts about complicity, being a bystander and innocence or not-knowing.
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2 of 6 people found the following review helpful By C. May on March 19, 2013
Format: Hardcover
The writing style is very interesting and takes a bit of getting used to. We begin with an earthquake in Chile and a young boy meeting a slighly older girl during the aftermath. They strike up a friendship and she asks for a favor. The second portion is about the "writer" of that tale and how he is trying to fix things with his ex-wife, partly through the story he's writing. Alternating between the story and the author's story makes for some interesting reading and is quite the literary device.

Check out my full review at [...]
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