AN OFFICIAL SELECTION OF THE FESTIVAL DU PREMIER ROMAN IN CHAMBÉRY
A retelling of a fantastical true story: two young men seduce Nobel laureate Juan Ramón Jiménez with the words of an imaginary woman and inspire one of his greatest love poems.
José Gálvez and Carlos Rodríguez are poets. Or, at least, they'd like to be. Sons of Lima's elite in the early twentieth century, they scribble bad verses and read the greats: Rilke, Rimbaud, and, above all others, Juan Ramón Jiménez, the Spanish Maestro. Desperate for Jiménez's latest work, which is unavailable for purchase in Peru, they decide to ask him for a copy directly.
They're certain Jiménez won't send two dilettantes his book—but maybe he'll favor a beautiful woman. They write to him as the lovely, imaginary Georgina Hübner, and their trick works; Jiménez responds with a letter and an autographed book. Elated, José and Carlos write back. Their correspondence continues, and the boys abandon poetry for the pages of Jiménez's life. But as the months go by, and each barge docked in the Lima harbor brings with it a new emblem of the Maestro's growing affection, José and Carlos are forced to reckon with their romance's inevitable dénouement.
|Subject||Fiction, Translated Fiction|
'A solid, marvelously written narrative…The meticulous language, the ability to delve into the human psyche, the finely-tuned portraits of characters and the landscape of Peru in the earlier twentieth century, with is social upheaval, strikes, brothels, the rubber industry (the reader might be reminded of The Dream of the Celt by Mario Vargas Llosa), plus the story's literary web, all wisely employed, turn The Sky over Lima into a novel to be read with supreme pleasure until it's been completely devoured.'
‘Based on a true story, Spanish poet and writer Bárcena's first novel transforms fact with cinematographic imagination, recreating the scenery and moods of Lima at the turn of the twentieth century with inimitable precision.'
‘Here's a tale with the subtlest of stings in it, dark wit and telescopic perspective aplenty. And then there's the intoxicating folly of the games that the protagonists play with fantasy and fact, malice, tenderness, ambition, envy and other forces that strike at our most vulnerable selves. I'll be thinking of these characters, what they longed to create and what they managed to despoil, for a long time.'
'A beautifully written novel, chock-full of sharp humor and penetrating insight, The Sky over Lima has at its heart a captivating, ventriloquistic love story, not unlike the classic Cyrano de Bergerac. But in this epistolary romance, the woman is a fiction written by two boys - reminiscent in their way of Bolaño's Visceral Realists - who come alive on the page as impeccably-wrought emissaries of their time and place, while remaining incredibly relatable and engaging to readers today.'
‘An intriguing tale of transatlantic catfishing ... Bárcena grounds the literary games in a richly detailed, early 20th-century Lima and its cast of secondary characters: dock workers, prostitutes, café-haunting literati. Its lightly ironic tone darkening as it proceeds, the novel sensitively explores how a literary prank shapes the sentimental, romantic, and moral education of Carlos.'
‘This marvelous story is stitched together by the seduction of three epistolary lovers, distant acquaintances that together conquer reality and fantasy, transporting us to an imaginary world that is at once refreshing, comic, and sublime. The conquest in this novel, a game played by one writer and his readers, captivates, drawing us in through the seductive power of a monumental young author.'
‘Charming...A love letter to the creative process.'
'Bárcena shines where so many writers stumble—his writing about art, of the artifice both in the narrative and implicit in his prose, feels alive, fresh and important. His words, which so easily could have become overwrought when translated into English, feel subtle and whimsical in Rosenberg's deft hands. Against the fascinating backdrop of Lima's burgeoning rubber industry, The Sky Over Lima explores notions of class, identity, and friendship, and reminded me of how it first felt to fall in love with writing.'
'A highly recommended read. Don't miss out on this novel.'
‘Masterfully shows how to write a story that's simultaneously a comedy, a tragedy, and a portrait of another culture. The style is magnificent, the narration told with originality, pulse, and rhythm. There's little more to say: read Gómez Bárcena.'
'A solid, marvelously written narrative…The careful language, the ability to dig into the human psyche, the finely-tuned portraits of characters and the landscape of Peru in the earlier twentieth century, with is social upheaval, strikes, brothels, the rubber industry (the reader might be reminded of The Dream of the Celt by Mario Vargas Llosa), plus the story's literary web, all wisely employed, turn The Sky over Lima into a novel to be read with supreme pleasure until it's been completely devoured.'
'Gómez Bárcena succeeds at turning this singular moment into fiction with flying colors…The narration of this minimalist work flows and advances like an afternoon bike ride.'