Uselessness: A Novel

University of Chicago Press
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The streets of Paris at night are pathways coursing with light and shadow, channels along which identity may be formed and lost, where the grand inflow of history, art, language, and thought—and of love—can both inspire and enfeeble. For the narrator of Eduardo Lalo’s Uselessness, it is a world long desired. But as this young aspiring writer discovers upon leaving his home in San Juan to study—to live and be reborn—in the city of his dreams, Paris’s twinned influences can rip you apart.

Lalo’s first novel, Uselessness is something of a bildungsroman of his own student days in Paris. But more than this, it is a literary précis of his oeuvre—of themes that obsess him still. Told in two parts, Uselessness first follows our narrator through his romantic and intellectual awakenings in Paris, where he elevates his adopted home over the moribund one he has left behind. But as he falls in and out of love he comes to realize that as a Puerto Rican, he will always be apart. Ending the greatest romance of his life—that with the city of Paris itself—he returns to San Juan. And in this new era of his life, he is forced to confront choices made, ambitions lost or unmet—to look upon lives not lived.

A tale of the travails of youthful romance and adult acceptance, of foreignness and isolation both at home and abroad, and of the stultifying power of the desire to belong—and to be moved—Uselessness is here rendered into English by the masterful translator Suzanne Jill Levine. For anyone who has been touched by the disquieting passion of Paris, Uselessness is a stirring saga.
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About the author

Eduardo Lalo is a writer, essayist, artist, and photographer from Puerto Rico. He is the author of twelve books, including the Gallegos Prize–winning Simone, also published by the University of Chicago Press. Suzanne Jill Levine is a leading scholar, critic, and translator of twentieth-century Latin American literature. She is professor in Spanish and Portuguese at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she is founder and director of the Translation Studies Program. She is the author of several books including The Subversive Scribe: Translating Latin American Fiction and has translated works by Manuel Puig, Jorge Luis Borges, Bioy Casares, and Severo Sarduy, among many other writers.
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Additional Information

Publisher
University of Chicago Press
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Published on
Oct 11, 2017
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Pages
208
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ISBN
9780226207650
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Language
English
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Genres
Fiction / General
Fiction / Hispanic & Latino
Fiction / Literary
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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Eduardo Lalo is one of the most vital and unique voices of Latin American literature, but his work is relatively little known in the English-speaking world. That changes now: this masterful translation of his most celebrated novel, Simone—which won the 2013 Rómulo Gallegos International Novel Prize—will introduce an English-language audience to this extraordinary literary talent.

A tale of alienation, love, suspense, imagination, and literature set on the streets of San Juan, Puerto Rico, Simone tells the story of a self-educated Chinese immigrant student courting (and stalking) a disillusioned, unnamed writer who is struggling to make a name for himself in a place that is not exactly a hotbed of literary fame. By turns solipsistic and political, romantic and dark, Simone begins with the writer’s frustrated, satiric observations on his native city and the banal life of the university where he teaches—forces utterly at odds with the sensuality of his writing. But, as mysterious messages and literary clues begin to appear—scrawled on sidewalks and walls, inside volumes set out in bookstores, left on his answering machine and under his windshield wiper—Simone progresses into a cat-and-mouse game between the writer and his mystery stalker. When the eponymous Simone’s identity is at last revealed, the writer finds in the life of this Chinese immigrant a plight not unlike his own. Traumatized and lonely, the pair moves towards bittersweet collaborations in passion, grief, and art.
Eduardo Lalo is one of the most vital and unique voices of Latin American literature, but his work is relatively little known in the English-speaking world. That changes now: this masterful translation of his most celebrated novel, Simone—which won the 2013 Rómulo Gallegos International Novel Prize—will introduce an English-language audience to this extraordinary literary talent.

A tale of alienation, love, suspense, imagination, and literature set on the streets of San Juan, Puerto Rico, Simone tells the story of a self-educated Chinese immigrant student courting (and stalking) a disillusioned, unnamed writer who is struggling to make a name for himself in a place that is not exactly a hotbed of literary fame. By turns solipsistic and political, romantic and dark, Simone begins with the writer’s frustrated, satiric observations on his native city and the banal life of the university where he teaches—forces utterly at odds with the sensuality of his writing. But, as mysterious messages and literary clues begin to appear—scrawled on sidewalks and walls, inside volumes set out in bookstores, left on his answering machine and under his windshield wiper—Simone progresses into a cat-and-mouse game between the writer and his mystery stalker. When the eponymous Simone’s identity is at last revealed, the writer finds in the life of this Chinese immigrant a plight not unlike his own. Traumatized and lonely, the pair moves towards bittersweet collaborations in passion, grief, and art.
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