Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ Free Shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
Ghosts (New Directions Paperbook) Paperback – February 24, 2009
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
From Publishers Weekly
Aira, an unusual Argentinean author (How I Became a Nun), writes a compelling novel about a migrant Chilean family living in an apartment house under construction in Buenos Aires. New Year's Eve finds the hard-drinking Chilean night watchman, Raúl Vinas, hosting a party with his wife, Elisa, their four small children and Elisa's pensive 15-year-old daughter, Patri. Moreover, ghosts reside in the house: naked, dust-covered floating men, mostly unseen except by Elisa and Patri. The novel engineers a clever layering of metaphorical details about the building, but gradually focuses on Elisa's preparations for the party and her conversations with her daughter about finding a real man to marry. Prodded perhaps by her isolation within the family, Patri accepts the ghosts' invitation to a midnight feast, at her life's peril. Aira takes off on fanciful sociological analogies that seem absurd in the mouths of these simple folk, so that in the end the novel functions as an allegorical, albeit touching, comment on his characters' materialism and class. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
From The New Yorker
Aira�s novella takes place in Buenos Aires on New Year�s Eve, inside a half-finished luxury-apartment complex. As the night watchman and his family, who occupy a makeshift dwelling on the roof, prepare for the evening�s festivities, a congregation of male ghosts flits about the building, sunning themselves in a �mood of summery exhibitionism.� Aira alternates between banal details of the family�s everyday existence and intellectual flights of fancy that include such diverse subjects as the social structure of Pygmy communities and Aborigine myth. As night falls, the watchman�s ineffectual, fiercely imaginative teen-age stepdaughter is drawn into a deadly pact with the ghosts as a way to escape an unnamed �specific torment.� Aira conjures a languorous, surreal atmosphere of baking heat and quietly menacing shadows that puts one in mind of a painting by de Chirico.
Browse award-winning titles. See more
If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support?
Top customer reviews
Most contemporary novelists try to disguise their allegories in the centuries-old conventions of realism. They pretend to be wholly--not selectively--reporting the world. But César Aira can't be bothered. So my principle reaction to Ghosts was relief: at least this guy isn't pretending. He's an unapologetic child of Kafka--or, more to the point, he shows us that we all are, fancy literary embellishments aside.
But I didn't only feel relief; I also felt like I'd been returned to fiction as it sounded when I was a child. We're trained early to look for the lessons--the moral--in stories. The history of my life as a reader can be summarized as a slow transition from explicit to implicit allegory. And now back. In this case, it's a happy return.
Aira's topics in Ghosts (which are really one topic) are the birth of desire, the end of innocence, the death in life that goes by the name eros. The book evokes that death with levity and precision. Like Kafka, Aria is never clever. He is compassionate, lucid, and funny. A girl in her mid-teens lives among ghosts, all of them men, naked phantasms covered in dust. She's lived among them for months, seen them floating about--but one day she actually sees them. And that's the difference, right? To really see a body. That's the moment when everything changes. This little book evokes that moment--when, to put it conventionally, a girl becomes a woman--exquisitely.
I read the book at a leisurely pace, in part because I was re-learning how to read like a kid. Sometimes I felt a kind of aching impatience to know what was going to happen, what the lesson would be. It might take me a while to once again experience that impatient ache as pleasure.
But among the book's many indisputable pleasures: a fantastic essay, dead in the middle of the book, on architecture; and the cast of characters, a family of immigrant Chileans living in Buenos Aires. Wonderful: people I love, a city I love, both evoked with generosity and intelligence.
Chris Andrews' translation is, as always, superb. Heartily recommended.
The book is well written and is an international sensation but frankly, I hated every word of it and would never have finished it if I thought I would be absent from the discussion. Sometimes these discussions give me an appreciation of the book but because I wasn't able to attend that evening I am left with only the memory of slogging through a disagreeable book that didn't make much sense to me.