Gustavo Faverón Patriau

REVIEW OF THE ANTIQUARIAN

Por Bryce Christensen, Booklist


Shocked by the news that Daniel, his old college friend, has murdered his girlfriend, Juliana, Gustavo is surprised when, years later, Daniel calls from a mental hospital to invite him to lunch. At that lunch, Daniel announces, “I am going to tell you a bunch of stories today,” so launching into a bewildering tangle of tales, suggestive both of Daniel’s fevered mental state and of Patriau’s consummate literary artistry. Recounted week by week, Daniel’s dark fables draw the protagonist (and reader) ever deeper into obscure symbols obliquely pointing to the truth about Juliana’s death. To decipher the secrets embedded in Daniel’s bizarre narratives, Gustavo draws on his skills as a psycholinguist, scrutinizing each torturous clue and connecting it with his own memories of college days spent with his friend in obscure libraries—and brothels. Keys to interpreting Daniel’s convoluted fictions come from Yanaúma, an elderly bookseller sharing Daniel’s passion for old books of arcane lore; from Pastor, the ex–naval officer who heard Daniel first confess to having killed Juliana; and from Mireaux, the hardened newspaper executive whose cryptic comments about Juliana veil hidden knowledge. At once heartbreaking and redemptive, the denouement illuminates a deep interconnection between horror and love. A powerful translation of the Spanish original.