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As Lord begins, a Brazilian author is arriving at London’s Heathrow airport for reasons he doesn’t fully understand. Only aware that he has been invited to take part in a mysterious mission, the Brazilian starts to churn with anxiety. Torn between returning home and continuing boldly forward, he becomes absorbed by fears: What if the Englishman who invited him here proves malign? Maybe he won’t show up? Or maybe he’ll leave the Brazilian lost and adrift in London, with no money or place to stay? Ever more confused and enmeshed in a reality of his own making, the Brazilian wanders more and more through London’s immigrant Hackney neighborhood, losing his memory, adopting strange behaviors, experiencing surreal sexual encounters, and developing a powerful fear of ever seeing himself reflected in a mirror.
A novel about the unsettling space between identities, and a disturbing portrait of dementia from the inside out, Lord constructs an altogether original story out of the ways we search for new versions of ourselves. With jaw-dropping scenes and sensual, at times grotesque images, renowned Brazilian author João Gilberto Noll grants us stunning new visions of our own personalities and the profound transformations that overtake us throughout life.
This surreal, audacious novel from the late Brazilian writer Noll (Atlantic Hotel) is a portrait of a man dissolving the lines between lucidity and incoherency, and of the frightening porousness of identity. An unnamed Brazilian novelist arrives in London, having been summoned there by someone referred to only as the Englishman, who claims to have a mission for the novelist. However, since arriving in London, the Brazilian has been slowly dissociating from his life in Brazil, forgetting at turns his language, his nationality, and the seven novels he'd written that had secured him this invitation. A number of events conspire to unsettle the narrator, like when he is mysteriously whisked away to the hospital, where he "died during the time I was sedated." He awakens a new man or at least one who's left who he used to be behind. From there, the strangeness of Noll's novel escalates in psychological and erotic ways, as the narrator becomes increasingly unhinged, and his perceptions of himself, the people around him, and the reality they occupy grow even more tenuous. When something shocking happens to the Englishman, the narrator thinks, in a moment of surprising clarity: "I was a survivor in bloom." Though the narrator is referring to the specific horrors he's suffered, in Noll's capable hands, it becomes a statement on the lives humans lead. This is a cunning, memorable novel.