A dazzling novel about the traces we leave, the traces we erase and the traces we seek to rebuild.
In this innovative novel three losses and three quests are pursued. English writer Aliza Abravanel tries, in a battle with aphasia, to finish her book. A last indigenous speaker is confronted with the fading of his culture and language while an anthropologist struggles to prevent it. And through the construction of an esoteric theatre of memory, a survivor of the Guatemalan genocide of the 1970s and ’80s seeks to recover the memories lost after the traumas of war. And behind these three threads lies the narrator’s own story: Julio, a disillusioned university professor, must try to understand and complete his friend Aliza’s novel, and come to terms with a past he shared with her but has blanked for thirty years.
From the Guatemalan wilderness to the high Peruvian Amazon, passing through Nueva Germania, the anti-Semitic commune founded in Paraguay by Nietzsche’s sister, Austral takes us on a long journey south, following a trail of ecological and cultural destruction to excavate contemporary xenophobia.