Natural History
Natural History
A Novel
Translated by Megan Mcdowell


Just before the dawn of the new millennium, a curator at a New Jersey museum of natural history receives an unusual invitation from a celebrated fashion designer. She shares the curator's fascination with the hidden forms of the animal kingdom--with camouflage and subterfuge--and she proposes that they collaborate on an exhibition, the form of which itself remains largely obscure, even as they enter into a strange relationship marked by evasion and elision.

Seven years later, after the death of the designer, the curator recovers the archive of their never-completed project. During a long night of insomnia, he finds within the archive a series of clues to the true story of the designer's family, a mind-bending puzzle that winds from Haifa, Israel, to bohemian 1970s New York to the Latin American jungle. On the way, he discovers a cast of characters whose own fixations interrogate the unstable frontiers between art, science, politics, and religion: an aging photographer, living nearly alone in an abandoned mining town where subterranean fires rage without end, who creates models of ruined cities; a former model turned conceptual artist--and a defendant in a trial over the very nature and purpose of art; a young indigenous boy who has received a vision of the end of the world. Reality is a curtain, as the curator realizes, and to draw it back is to reveal the theater of obsession.

Natural History is the portrait of a world trapped between faith and irony, between tragedy and farce. A defiantly contemporary and impressively ambitious novel in the tradition of Italo Calvino and Ricardo Piglia, it confirms Carlos Fonseca as one of the most daring writers of his generation.

"Everything is contingent in Fonseca's story, and nothing is quite to be trusted . . . [Natural History] is an elegant meditation on art, inconstancy, and hiding . . . A treat for fans of Cortázar, Bolaño, and other adepts of the literary enigma." --Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Fonseca's inventive, complex tale reads like a literary onion, constantly revealing new narratives and layers of meaning . . .The various characters' perspectives blur the line between memory and fantasy, and their charm will keep readers along for the very intricate ride. Fonseca's innovative puzzle box of a novel packs a powerful punch." --Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Fiercely intelligent and wildly imaginative--a fever dream of a novel, rich and strange." --Carys Davies, author of West

Like a certain map that appears in its pages, a map in which two versions of a city are superimposed on one another, Natural History reveals a strange reality that lives in the shadows of our own. Carlos Fonseca has written a wonderful, wildly ambitious book that builds a labyrinth from art, politics, religion, love, and obsession. --Chris Power, author of Mothers

Natural History is a deeply thoughtful, bold, and kaleidoscopic novel, one that, with great audacity and even greater beauty, invites reflection about the weight of legacies and about the masks that make up what we call identity. --Alia Trabucco Zerán, author of The Remainder

Carlos Fonseca is one of the most gifted and imaginative young novelists in Latin America today. --Chloe Aridjis, author of Sea Monsters

With Natural History, Carlos Fonseca, a writer of archives, masks, and ruins--that is, a writer with the capacity to create new ways of thinking, an ingenious and obstinate explorer of the abyss--has cemented himself as one of my favorites. --Enrique Vila-Matas, author of the International Booker Prize-longlisted Mac and His Problem

Title Natural History
Subtitle A Novel
Translated by Megan Mcdowell
Publisher Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Title First Published 14 July 2020
Format Hardcover
Nb of pages
ISBN-10 0374216304
ISBN-13 9780374216306
Publication Date 14 July 2020
Weight 32 oz.
 


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