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February 2019 Fiction: Literary

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By (author): Guillermo Saccomanno Translated by: Andrea Labinger
9781940953892 Paperback, Trade English General Trade FICTION / Literary Feb 22, 2019
$22.50 CAD
Active 5.5 x 8.5 x 0.84 in | 350 gr 220 pages Open Letter Books Open Letter
Buenos Aires, 1977. In the darkest days of the Videla dictatorship, Gómez, a gay high-school literature teacher, tries to keep a low profile as one-by-one, his friends and students begin to disappear. When Esteban, one of Gómez’s favorite students, is taken away in a classroom raid, Gómez realizes that no one is safe anymore, and that asking too many questions can have lethal consequences. His life gradually becomes a paranoid, insomniac nightmare that not even his nightly forays into bars and bathhouses in search of anonymous sex can relieve. Things get even more complicated when he takes in two dissidents, putting his life at risk—especially since he’s been having an affair with a homophobic, sadistic cop with ties to the military government. Told mostly in flashbacks thirty years later,77 is rich in descriptive detail, dream sequences, and even elements of the occult, which build into a haunting novel about absence and the clash between morality and survival when living under a dictatorship.

Guillermo Saccomanno is the author of numerous novels and story collections, includingEl buen dolor, winner of the Premio Nacional de Literatura, and77 andGesell Dome, both of which won the Dashiell Hammett Prize. (Both available from Open Letter.) He also received Seix Barral's Premio Biblioteca Breve de Novela forEl oficinista and the Rodolfo Walsh Prize for nonfiction forUn maestro. Critics tend to compare his works to those of Balzac, Zola, Dos Passos, and Faulkner.

Andrea G. Labinger is the translator of more than a dozen works from the Spanish, including books by Ana María Shua, Liliana Heker, Luisa Valenzuela, and Alicia Steimberg, among others.

Winner of the 2008 Hammett Award

"77 is a taut historical thriller with noir overtones. . . . As his characters grapple with love, allegiance, and daily life under a dictatorship, every action is a form of resistance."Foreword Reviews

"77 sings a dark song of one man’s struggle to stay human when the inhumane lurks on every corner and the day-to-day reality of his world is curdled by the struggle between unchecked power and subversive acts."—Ross Nervig,Southwest Review

"A great novel. . . . I am—as we all should be—grateful for77 and all novels like it."—Patrick Nathan,Full Stop

"LikeTwin Peaks reimagined by Roberto Bolaño,Gesell Dome is a teeming microcosm in which voices combine into a rich, engrossing symphony of human depravity."Publishers Weekly

In prickly, energized language, Saccomanno . . . captures the fearfulness of those living under dictatorship."Library Journal

"Cynical and funny: a yarn worthy of a place alongside Cortázar and Donoso."Kirkus Reviews

"By using a narrator who is not shocked, who does not look away from anything, Saccomanno shines a gruesome, graphic light on what people are willing to ignore so that their comfort remains intact.”—Kim Fay,Los Angeles Review of Books

"77 is ostensibly a novel about Argentina’s Dirty War; it is also a book about reconciling inaction with survival."World Literature Today

“77 is, among other things, a potent reminder of the gruesome paths of totalitarian dictators.”—Lew Whittington,New York Journal of Books

"A choral, savage, and ruthless work, considered to be the great Argentine social novel."Europa Press

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