Foreword by Carmen Boullosa
Translated by Suzanne Jill Levine, Katie Lateef-Jan
Brookline Booksmith Recommends
Aug 10, 2020
The first widely available English translation of Silvina Ocampo's first book short stories (published originally in Argentina as Viaje Olvidado in 1937) is a totally wonderful collection that manages to thread that precise needle between the mystical and the domestic, over and over again. Ocampo was a contemporary and comrade of many prominent Argentinian writers; Jorge Luis Borges, Adolfo Bioy Casares, Alejandra Pizarnik—even Ocampo's sister, Victoria, edited the popular and acclaimed literary magazine Sur. Ocampo's own abilities have historically been eclipsed by the success of those around her, but thanks to the translators Suzanne Jill Levine & Katie Lateef Jan, these stories are available to a wider audience. Many of them follow the lives of girls and women; her characters are found playing in fields, chasing strangers, or whispering to one another through a fence in secret. This book is magical, gauzy, twisted, and strange—in all the best ways. If you're a fan of writers like Virginia Woolf, Clarice Lispector (another amazing author in translation!), or Karen Russell, try this one out!
Picks for Women in Translation Month 2020
Aug 3, 2020
"Each story is a perfectly encapsulated gem—each with its own specific mood and idiosyncratic perspective. Reading these stories is like being hypnotized by a strangely alluring painting or stepping into a vivid, unsettling dream; everything seems recognizable and fine until, quite suddenly, it's not. Surreal and subversive, the stories' exploration of childhood trauma, particularly as seen through the lens of girlhood, reveals a world both magical and menacing."—Jessica Powell
A review in "Review: Literature and Arts of the Americas"
Jun 17, 2020
"The twenty-eight stories of Forgotten Journey veer easily from a sort of local realism to a language of dreams or folk tales with ominous shadows, and that was the palette she generally employed through her subsequent half-dozen books of short fiction."—Jason Weiss
Review in the "New York Review of Books"
Apr 23, 2020
"She is a remarkably visual writer. The situations she composes—innocence corrupted; class status revealed or revoked; the external effects on the body of various foods, states of weather, varieties of poison and medicine—make for phenomenal tableaux."—Laura Kolbe
KCRW "Bookworm" Interview with Michael Silverblatt
Feb 20, 2020
"Silvina Ocampo is the next writer you should be reading."—Michael Silverblatt
Review in "Asymptote Journal"
Feb 10, 2020
"Like watching the world through a glass prism, Forgotten Journey is wonderfully strange, mesmerizing, and utterly original."—Sarah Moore
Review in the "Times Literary Supplement"
Jan 24, 2020
"Suzanne Jill Levine, working with Jessica Powell on The Promise and Katie Lateef-Jan on Forgotten Journey, has produced a translation that beautifully captures the elegance and strangeness of Ocampo's style. . . . The results are intoxicating."—Miranda France
Review in the Southwest Review
Jan 8, 2020
"The majority of Silvina Ocampo's characters are female, and there is an accompanying feminism—subtle yet disruptive—that echoes through both Forgotten Journey and The Promise. Largely evincing a politics of acknowledgement and witness, her writing quietly reveals the double standards and ironies layered into mundane aspects of the lives of the women in her stories."
Review in "The Hindu"
Dec 23, 2019
"Argentinian writer Silvina Ocampo's short stories, translated into English for the first time, are like modernist paintings in their blend of the surreal and the mundane."—Shelley Walia
Recommended in the "San Francisco Chronicle" holiday guide.
Dec 20, 2019
Words Without Borders -- Best Translated Books You Missed in 2019
Dec 17, 2019
"A few years ago, when I wrote an essay about Silvina Ocampo's short fiction, I was frustrated by the knowledge that I, who cannot read Spanish, could access only a third of her stories. So it’s been a highlight of 2019 to encounter City Lights’s publication of Ocampo’s debut collection of 1937, Forgotten Journey, translated into English for the first time by Suzanne Jill Levine and Katie Lateef-Jan. 'The country was so flat,' one story begins, 'that the horizon would climb up the sky on all four sides, in the shape of a bathroom sink."'This kind of warping of physical and psychological spaces occurs again and again in Ocampo’s work, always manifesting in new, unexpected ways. She is an extraordinary writer."—Chris Power, literary critic for the Guardian and author of the short-story collection Mothers
Essay in the Los Angeles Review of Books
Dec 5, 2019
"In Forgotten Journey, many of the stories feature girls, sisters, and young female friends. They exist in the same plane as the adults around them, but within an imaginative world of their own. Young girls play in fields by a stormy sea and communicate through fences as their guardian angels sleep. They learn through other girls and women of the world's secrets, often a dark and scary transformation, which ends in the loss of innocence, or death."—Claire Mullen
Chosen a Must-Read Short Story Collection by Book Riot
Nov 27, 2019
"Now for the first time in English translation, readers can delight in all of the strange brilliance that is Silvina Ocampo's first collection of stories, Forgotten Journey. Published alongside her novella The Promise, this collection is primarily concerned with the lives of young women and girls. Often menacing and strange, each story has a thrill to it, a dark joy that keeps you fixed to the collection. In her foreword, Carmen Boullosa writes of the often cited comparison between Ocampo and Julio Cortázar but argues instead that, 'While in his fabulous stories Cortázar discovered the unreal in everyday life, Silvina enters real, detailed, intimate spaces, which she observes with an eye that is intimate, real and detailed, and yet an eye from another world.'"—Pierce Alquist, Book Riot
Excerpt in The Paris Review
Nov 15, 2019
"The Other Ocampo Sister, Overshadowed No More." The Paris Review publishes Carmen Boullosa's foreword, “Silvina, Faithful to the Imagination” from Forgotten Journey.
LitHub Essay: Mariana Enriquez on the Radical, Subversive Power of Silvina Ocampo
Nov 6, 2019
"The world is ready for her blend of insane Angela Carter with the originality of Clarice Lispector."—Mariana Enriquez
Feature on Words Without Borders
Oct 30, 2019
In anticipation of City Lights's publication of Silvina Ocampo's Forgotten Journey (tr. Suzanne Jill Levine and Katie Lateef-Jan) and The Promise (tr. Suzanne Jill Levine and Jessica Powell), Argentine writer and critic María Agustina Pardini reflects on Ocampo’s writing and legacy and speaks with the translators of the forthcoming works.
Review on NPR
Oct 26, 2019
"Both her debut story collection, Forgotten Journey, and her only novel, The Promise, are strikingly 20th-century texts, written in a high-modernist mode rarely found in contemporary fiction. The translator Suzanne Jill Levine worked on both books, collaborating with Katie Lateef-Jan on Forgotten Journey and Jessica Powell on The Promise. Together, the three have captured Ocampo's Surrealist style beautifully, creating translations powered by image and mood rather than character or plot."—Lily Meyer
Feature on BookRiot
Oct 24, 2019
Fall 2019 New Releases In Translation Roundup.
"Legend Silvina Ocampo worked on perfecting this novel over the course of 25 years, right up until her death in 1993, and it's out this fall in its first ever English translation. It's being published alongside Forgotten Journey a collection of short stories by Ocampo translated by Suzanne Jill Levine and Katie Lateef-Jan. In The Promise, a woman reminisces about her life, and lets her imagination get away with her, after falling overboard into the sea—a reflection of Ocampo's own struggles with dementia and her interest in memory and identity. It’s said to be Ocampo 'at her most feminist, idiosyncratic and subversive' and I just can’t wait to get my hands on it and Forgotten Journey."—Pierce Alquist
Excerpt from Forgotten Journey, "Siesta in the Cedar Tree" at "On the Seawall”
Oct 22, 2019
Review of Forgotten Journey at "Reading in Translation"
Oct 21, 2019
"We are made of stories, and, when they are as well-told as Silvina Ocampo's, they will remain after we are gone."—Dorothy Potter Snyder, "Reading in Translation"
Feature in "Perfil," Argentina
Sep 9, 2019
Maria Agustina Pardini discusses the new releases of Silvina Ocampo's work with translators Suzanne Jill Levine, Jessica Powell, and Katie Lateef-Jan, and City Lights' Publisher (and the books' editor) Elaine Katzenberger.
Excerpt in Two Lines
Sep 9, 2019
Two Lines features the stories The Lost Passport and The Olive Green Dress.
Review in the Women's Review of Books
Sep 1, 2019
"Forgotten Journey and The Promise by late Argentine writer Silvina Ocampo are cornucopias, outpourings of words with the same concision we ascribe to nature. Descriptions pour forth not like water but sap, ensuring the reader will pause and savor, not just in a portrait but every paragraph, each word."—Ana Castillo, Women's Review of Books
Starred Review * Kirkus Reviews
Aug 19, 2019
"The first English translation of Argentinian surrealist Ocampo's debut book. By any account, Ocampo is an underrecognized literary innovator. Born in Buenos Aires in 1903, she trained as a visual artist under the tutelage of Giorgio de Chirico in Italy but returned home to launch a career as the lucid chronicler of Argentina's characters, colors, and drifting seasons. Her legacy is often overshadowed by her association with her sister, the well-known editor Victoria Ocampo, her marriage to acclaimed novelist Adolfo Bioy Casares, and her friendship with Jorge Luis Borges, but Ocampo's short vignettes—determinedly dreamlike, constitutionally opposed to traditional structures, quietly feminist in their focus on domestic menace and the underrecorded lives of women, children, and the laboring class—hold their own as masterworks of midcentury modernism. In her debut collection, originally published in 1937, Ocampo introduces the reader to singular characters like Miss Hilton, the world-traveling tutor undone by her apparent lack of modesty, who 'blushed easily, and had translucent skin like wax paper, like those packages you can see through to all that's wrapped inside'; or Mademoiselle Dargere, the caregiver to a 'colony of sickly children,' who is haunted by the vision of a man's head wreathed in flames; or Eladio Rada, the caretaker of a stately country home who measures the seasons of his life by the house's relative emptiness. Ocampo's landscapes are just as central to the stories' thematic development as her unforgettable characters. Set on the streets of Buenos Aires itself, in the decaying summer homes of the country's interior or the fishing villages along its coast, Ocampo's stories lovingly detail the landscape that nurtures, haunts, or condemns her characters within the spiral cycles of their lives. Often these stories culminate in dreams or dreamlike violence—as in 'The Lost Passport,' in which 14-year-old Claude dreams of the fire that sinks her trans-Atlantic ship, or 'The Two Houses of Olivos' in which two young girls take advantage of their guardian angels' siestas to escape to heaven, 'a big blue room with fields of raspberries and other fruits,' riding on the back of a white horse. Sometimes Ocampo's play with surrealism and metaphysical symbolism is more overt, as in 'Sarandí Street,' in which the speaker's entrapment in her family's house is blamed on her sisters, 'dying of strange diseases,' who emerge from their rooms with 'their bodies withered away and covered in deep blue bruises, as if they had endured long journeys through thorny forests.' Indeed, it is Ocampo's skill with the blurred line between dream and memory that marks her oeuvre and distinguishes her from contemporaneous masters of the modernist vantage like Virginia Woolf or Katherine Mansfield. Yet regardless of the author's historical importance, it is for the precise and terrible beauty of her sentences that this book should be read.A masterpiece of midcentury modernist literature triumphantly translated into our times."
Three Percent blog:
Aug 5, 2019
"Ocampo is a legend, and this, her longest work, has never before made it into English. . . . Add to that an intriguing premise—a woman falls overboard on a transatlantic voyage and, while she floats along for hour after hour, promises that if she survives, she'll write her life story—and some really sharp prose (wonderfully rendered by two top notch translators) and you just know this book is going to be great."—Chad Post
Excerpt in the Harvard Review
Aug 1, 2019
by Silvina Ocampo
translated by Suzanne Jill Levine and Katie Lateef-Jan
It was her saint's day and it was a day like any other. A waltz flowed in waves from the house next door; it wasn't the radio, it must have been someone practicing the piano, following the notes of a song sprinkled with indecisions. And every day it was that same waltz, never learned, that peeked through the shutters and filtered in through the walls of the neighboring house. That music reached back to the day of her birth and every year was repeated on her saint's day, always bereft of gifts. The past month Fulgencia had invited her to her birthday party and there were enough gifts to fill a toy store window. Celinita was wearing new booties but longed for her bare feet during the days they would run around the rooms like two doves on the flower-patterned tiles—two doves afraid of slipping on the waxed floors. . . .
Review in Publishers Weekly
Jul 15, 2019
"Ocampo (1903–1993) is a legend of Argentinian literature, and this collection of her short stories brings some of her most recondite and mysterious works to the English-speaking world. Many of these are glancing sense impressions, such as 'The Enmity of Things,' a dreamlike vision of sinister windows in a rotting, cavernous house filled with secret rooms, or 'The Olive Green Dress,' which briefly follows a scandalous schoolteacher. Other stories are more forthcoming, though just as strange: in 'The Lost Passport,' a 14-year-old girl and a streetwalker together board a doomed cruise ship, managing a kind of mystic transference before the inevitable wreckage. 'Landscape of Trapezes' follows the story of a tightrope walker and her monkey, while two girls, rich and poor, trade places in 'The Two Houses of Olivos' as their Guardian Angels lie sleeping in the garden; and in the title story, a child struggles to recall the moment of her own birth. Common topics for Ocampo include children's first encounter with death and disease and the secret malevolence of certain clothing items (a cardigan provokes a feeling of misery in one character; a bathing suit reminds another character that the sea is 'a device of endless torture'). In Ocampo's prose, every detail indicates a hidden world just beyond waking. This collection is an ideal introduction to a beguiling body of work."—Publishers Weekly
Excerpt in the New Yorker
Jul 11, 2019
The elevator gate had gold chalices with flowers and spirals of black iron foliage that would catch your eye when you were sad, watching, hypnotized by those huge snakes, the uncoiling elevator cables. It was my oldest aunt's house, where I was taken on Saturdays to visit. Above the hall in that house with a skylight was another mysterious home, and through the glass you could see a family of feet, surrounded by halos, like saints, and the shadows of the rest of the bodies to which those feet belonged, shadows flattened like hands seen through bathwater. There were two tiny feet and three pairs of big feet, two with spiked high heels which took short steps. Trunks moved across the floor with the noise of a thunderstorm, but the family never seemed to travel. They always sat in the same bare room, unfolding newspapers while melodies flowed incessantly from the player piano, which was always stuck on the same tune. From time to time, voices bounced like balls against the floor or fell quietly onto the rug. . . .
LITHUB -- Most Anticipated Books of 2019
Jul 9, 2019
"Year by year, more of the great Argentinian Silvina Ocampo is restored to us, like the lost work of a luminously dark seer. Borges and Calvino were in her thrall: the fantastic Mariana Enriquez has written an entire book on her. Yet Ocampo remains an obscure writer to most. Yet what work she wrote, what an incredible life she lived. These two newly translated books could make her a rediscovery on par with Clarice Lispector. In The Promise, a woman falls overboard a transatlantic ship and confronts her regrets and longings as she bobs in the freezing water. Forgotten Journey gives us 28 short stories, translated into English for the first time, providing a surprising glimpse of the birth of gothic fiction in Latin America which dates back to the 1930s. Lusciously strange, uncompromising, yet balanced and precise, there has never been another voice like hers."—John Freeman, Executive Editor, LITHUB