"I envy how naturally she makes use of language; her resistance to ornamentation and artifice; and the almost stoic fortitude with which she dispenses her profound and penetrating knowledge of human nature. What's more, in this novel, she has impeccable syntactic control, and her ear is sharper than ever before" Valeria Luiselli, Guernica
A shy young Mexican woman moves to Paris to study literature. Cecilia has few friends, and a morbid fascination with watching the funerals taking place in Père-Lachaise cemetery outside her apartment. She suddenly strikes up a close relationship with her neighbour, a sickly young man who shares her interest in death and believes we can communicate with the dead. After coming to entirely depend on him for company and routine, Cecilia is left devastated by his decision to go to Sicily for his health, and is left alone in an unfriendly city once more.
Claudio, meanwhile, lives in New York with the submissive, quiet, but very wealthy Ruth. She makes few demands of him, while acquiescing to all his desires and indulging his obsessive, misogynistic nature. He meets Cecilia by chance when visiting a friend in Paris and their two very different worlds collide with transformative consequences.
With startling intensity, humour and insight, Nettel conjures a dark fable about obsession, denial and our modern ability to reach out across the globe in search of love.
Translated from the Spanish by Rosalind Harvey
Tracing two lives on two continents, Nettel's novel is an engrossing examination of what happens before and after a brief affair. In New York, misogynistic book editor Claudio, originally from Cuba, romances an older woman he doesn't respect, and depends on a precise routine each day. Across the Atlantic, Cecilia settles in Paris, far from her home in Mexico, to work on a postgraduate degree, and starts a relationship with her ill bookseller neighbor, Tom, who is obsessed with cemeteries. Tom leaves for Sicily in hopes of spiritually confronting his disease, and while he's away, Cecilia meets Claudio, who is traveling abroad with his lover, through a mutual friend. The pair strikes up a whirlwind romance that continues once Claudio returns to New York. Though this illicit relationship fizzles, the duo is uniquely changed by their time together Cecilia amplifies her dedication to Tom; Claudio turns his attention to running marathons and as Nettel (The Body Where I Was Born) chronicles Cecilia and Claudio's return to normalcy, the impact of their fleeting romance ripples through their relationships and decisions. Nettel's sharp, potent novel depicts how even the briefest relationship can affect the rest of a life.