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Sudden Death: A Novel by Alvaro Enrigue

Sudden Death: A Novel (edition 2017)

by Alvaro Enrigue (Author), Natasha Wimmer (Translator)

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2961363,537 (3.72)56
A 1599 Roman tennis match between the Italian painter Caravaggio and the Spanish poet Quevedo represents the way the world changed in their times, in a novel that goes from the execution of Anne Boleyn to Mexico after the conquest.
Title:Sudden Death: A Novel
Authors:Alvaro Enrigue (Author)
Other authors:Natasha Wimmer (Translator)
Info:Riverhead Books (2017), Edition: Reprint, 272 pages
Collections:Books Read

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Sudden Death by Alvaro Enrigue



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» See also 56 mentions

English (12)  Spanish (1)  All languages (13)
Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
2019. I never would have suspected that I would love
a book about a tennis match between Caravaggio and
an obscure Spanish poet in the 1500s; and Cortes
colonizing South America, but it was so beautifully written
that it was a joy to read. There was sone bawdy, drunken
gay sex too. ( )
  kylekatz | Mar 29, 2020 |
The novel begins by telling you nothing in it is true:

the only real things in a novel are the sequences of letters, words, and sentences that make it up, and the paper on which they're printed.

But what follows is told in a tone that mimics the tone of a popular history book. Never mind that the historic characters who appear in this novel are set into scenes of great ridiculousness-- history itself is ridiculous series of unlikely events, isn't it?--so as I read sentence after sentence of implausible if historic-sounding details, each so surprising and specific (and playful and delightful), I kept thinking, "wait, did that really happen?" or "could it have been that way?" until I just needed to give myself up to the story entirely and to be carried off into its world.

And through it all, somehow this feeling kept surprising me, that I could be having so much fun while reading a book that is so erudite and so well-written. No matter how playful the novel is, there is this skittering tension in it between fact and fiction, between what is known about the past, and what can never be known about the past. It's both a deep-fun book, and a fun-deep book. Wonderful. ( )
  poingu | Feb 22, 2020 |
Super weird, but always entertaining. Not since reading American Tabloid by james Ellroy have I been forced to Google so many of the characters in a novel to discover if they were real or not. The storytelling is a little stop-start and the timeline is utterly jumbled, which can be challenging, but the overall effect s perfectly charming. There is also some remarkable breaking of the fourth wall by the novelist which emphasized the playfulness of the whole thing. Uncategorizable, but a delight nonetheless. ( )
  asxz | Mar 13, 2019 |
If you think you won't like this book because it's 'experimental' in the sense of not having a linear plot and being meta, set that aside and give it a try. For me this book hit so many fantastic notes - juicy characters, biting satire, sly humor, and underneath it all an absurdist pessimism toward human nature and history that doesn't quite slip into nihilism. The structure of the book - the jumping between the stories and the author's direct conversation with the reader - made it even more of a page-turner for me, I couldn't wait to return to all the story lines. The translator does an amazing job. Here's a couple of quotes that give a flavor of the author's voice - and are just as applicable to the 21st century as the 16th.

Describing Hernando Cortes: “...he wasn’t just Europe’s greatest celebrity but the prince of all those who fuck things up without realizing it. He’s the lord of the fight pickers, the litigious, those who can never acknowledge their own success; the captain of all those who win an impossible battle only to believe that it’s the first of many and then sink in their own shit with sword raised.”

Speaking to the reader: “There are few better illustrations of how a whole host of people can manage to understand absolutely nothing, act in an impulsive and idiotic way, and still drastically change the course of history.” ( )
  badube | Mar 6, 2019 |
Book was over my head - cannot award it a rating.
  triphopera | Apr 14, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Alvaro Enrigueprimary authorall editionscalculated
Thorburn, AnnakarinTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wimmer, NatashaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Book description
Mort subite est une époustouflante satire postmoderne qui, à travers un improbable match de tennis opposant le poète Quevedo au Caravage, rebat les cartes de l'histoire pour mieux éclairer nos vacillements contemporains.
Le 4 octobre 1599, à midi tapante, sur les cours de tennis de la Plaza Navona, le poète Miguel Angel de Quevedo et Le Caravage s'apprête à défendre leur honneur à coups de raquettes. L'un est un poète espagnol, voyou et criminel à ses heures, dont les vers traverseront les siècles. L'autre est le plus prisé des peintres de Rome. A lui seul, il a posé les fondements de l'art moderne. Le Caravage mène une vie dissipée, et ne tardera pas lui aussi à basculer vers le crime.
Les trois sets de leur match de tennis-duel et le mystère qui entoure les véritables raisons de leur querelle forment le c ur du roman kaleïdoscopique d'Alvaro Enrigue : des destins mêlés de Cortès et de l'Empire Aztèque aux cruels errements matrimoniaux d'Henry VIII en passant par les secrets de la papauté, et les vies dissolues de nos deux duellistes, Mort Subite explore ce moment charnière de l'histoire, la Renaissance, à travers le prisme le plus inattendu et original qui soit : cette fièvre nouvelle qui s'est emparé du monde, le tennis.
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