For fans of Robin Sloan's Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore and Maria Semple's Where'd You Go, Bernadette, an inventive, brilliant debut novel about the disappearance of a famous Brazilian novelist and the young translator who turns her life upside down to follow her author's trail.
Beatriz Yagoda was once one of Brazil's most celebrated authors. At the age of sixty, she is mostly forgotten-until one summer afternoon when she enters a park in Rio de Janeiro, climbs into an almond tree, and disappears.
When her devoted translator Emma hears the news in wintry Pittsburgh, she flies to the sticky heat of Rio. There she joins the author's son and daughter to solve the mystery of Yagoda's disappearance and satisfy the demands of the colorful characters left in her wake, including a loan shark with a debt to collect and the washed-up editor who launched Yagoda's career. What they discover is how much of her they never knew.
Exquisitely imagined and as profound as it is suspenseful, Ways to Disappear is at once a thrilling story of intrigue and a radiant novel of self-reckoning.
"An elegant page-turner....Charges forward with the momentum of a bullet."-New York Times Book Review
Poet and translator Novey's briskly paced first novel is a clever literary mystery and a playful portrait of the artist as a young translator. Novey depicts her heroine, Emma, becoming embroiled in the life of an enigmatic Brazilian author, Beatriz Yagoda, whose books she has translated for years. When Beatriz, last seen puffing on a cigar and perched on a tree branch with a suitcase, goes missing, Emma leaves Pittsburgh, Pa., and her stick-in-the-mud fianc behind to fly to Rio and find Beatriz, the author of works "so strange and spare that it felt like a whispered, secret history of the world." Emma is convinced that these works, along with a cryptic, unfinished manuscript left behind, could elucidate the mystery of Beatriz's whereabouts. The search is conducted alongside Beatriz's two adult children, one who resents the "gangly tourist" and the other who seduces her, and it has its share of violence and romance it reads like an Ali Smith novel with a fun Brazilian noir vibe. But underlying these comic noir elements is an eloquent meditation on the art and anxiety of translation, as well as a story about literature as a means of revelation and concealment: who ultimately knows more about the secretive missing woman, the translator intimately familiar with her writing or the children who have never finished any of her books?