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Ways to Disappear by Idra Novey

Ways to Disappear

by Idra Novey

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1601174,566 (3.42)44



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i just don't know... while there was much i was able to appreciate about the writing style and the focus on literary translation, this book just didn't do too much for me, and i feel a bit flat and disappointed over it. ( )
  Booktrovert | Apr 21, 2017 |
A famous Brazilian writer, Beatriz Yagoda, one day climbs a tree with suitcase, book and cigars. Then she disappears. Her American translator Emma immediately flies to Brazil, unsure of what she can do. Beatriz's two adult children are also flummoxed, as she only cryptically communicates with her former publisher. This is a witty, engaging novel that will leave you never quite sure of what will happen when you turn the page, reminiscent of Calvino I think. It also explores the role of the translator via Emma's role in the saga; should she be an invisible presence or an active participant? ( )
  PPLS | Nov 28, 2016 |
Smart, witty, entertaining story told in short chapters, news clips, word definitions, poems, etc., about an author who disappears and her translator's efforts to find her. ( )
  beaujoe | Sep 3, 2016 |
In the opening scene of Idra Novey’s debut novel, the brilliant but eccentric Brazilian novelist Beatriz Yagoda is seen climbing a tree, carrying a packed suitcase and smoking a cigar. After this she vanishes completely. In Brazil, the disappearance of the country’s pre-eminent writer is newsworthy. The incident is reported internationally as well, and comes to the attention of Yagoda’s American translator, Emma Neufeld, who promptly leaves a sterile life and controlling boyfriend behind in Pittsburgh and heads to Brazil. In Rio, Emma forms an uneasy alliance with Beatriz’s grown children—protective and suspicious Rachel and carefree Marcus—in the search for their mother, but is quickly sidetracked by Marcus’ youthful charms and the two become embroiled in a passionate affair. In the meantime, a new Yagoda manuscript has been uncovered and Emma learns a few facts about her elusive author, the chief one being that Beatriz is addicted to online poker and has run up a massive debt with a ruthless loan shark, hence her desire to disappear. The action proceeds, via numerous brief chapters, at breakneck speed, with Emma using her intimate knowledge of Beatriz’s published works to spot clues to her possible whereabouts. Beatriz’s effete former publisher becomes involved, eventually publishing the new manuscript. It all seems like harmless fun until the loan shark decides the only way he’s going to recover his investment is to leverage a portion of the proceeds from the new book, which he does using threats and violence. Novey’s spirited narrative is difficult to pin down, one moment reading like a zany spoof of Amado or Garcia Marquez and the next evoking a grisly noir thriller. The key concept seems to be translation. Beatriz, elusive to the end, only exists in the minds of the characters we meet, each of whom is pursuing a private version of her (mother, iconic author, colleague, debtor). Make no mistake, Ways to Disappear provides a pleasant and inoffensive diversion for a couple of hours: the writing flows with unstoppable momentum and is often brilliantly evocative of a joyful and sensual Brazilian street culture. But the novel’s bubbly surface makes it very difficult to take the characters and their struggles seriously. Novey fills page after page with frantic action, but at no point does she give us a reason to cheer her characters on. There is an attempt at poignancy at the end, but by then the reader will have discovered the book lacks the emotional depth that would make us care. ( )
1 vote icolford | Aug 14, 2016 |
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The protagonist, Emma Neufeld, is a Portuguese-to-English translator devoted to the work of a cult-classic Brazilian writer. Novey herself translates from Portuguese to English, most recently the work of Clarice Lispector, the cult-classic Brazilian writer.

But Novey has wholly eluded the hazards of writing about writers. Instead, this lush and tightly woven novel manages to be a meditation on all forms of translation while still charging forward with the momentum of a bullet.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0316298492, Hardcover)

A debut novel about the disappearance of a famous Brazilian novelist and the young translator who turns her life upside down to follow her author's trail.

Deep in gambling debt, the celebrated Brazilian writer Beatriz Yagoda is last seen holding a suitcase and a cigar and climbing into an almond tree. She abruptly vanishes.

In snowy Pittsburgh, her American translator Emma hears the news and, against the wishes of her boyfriend and Beatriz's two grown children, flies immediately to Brazil. There, in the sticky, sugary heat of Rio, Emma and her author's children conspire to solve the mystery of Yagoda's curious disappearance and staunch the colorful demands of her various outstanding affairs: the rapacious loan shark with a zeal for severing body parts, and the washed-up and disillusioned editor who launched Yagoda's career years earlier.

Idra Novey's exhilarating debut is an international romp: a madcap blend of mystery, romance, noir, and humor.

(retrieved from Amazon Sat, 29 Aug 2015 17:09:34 -0400)

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