Ways to disappear A novel

Idra Novey

Book - 2016

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FICTION/Novey, Idra
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New York : Little, Brown and Company 2016.
First edition
Physical Description
258 pages ; 22 cm
Main Author
Idra Novey (author)
Review by Booklist Reviews

In this short first novel, poet and translator Novey tells a fast-paced, supremely engaging story of characters with good intentions who quickly get in over their heads. When popular Brazilian author Beatriz Yagoda goes missing, her American translator, Emma, embarks on a poorly planned journey to find her. Easy enough, she thinks, only to find herself at odds with Yagoda's business-minded daughter, Raquel, and completely infatuated with Marcus, the author's son. The trio runs in circles in their search, until a tough-talking loan shark shows up and proves he means business when a second member of the Yagoda clan disappears. Novey's narration switches from Emma to the Yagodas to Beatriz's frantic publisher and is interspersed by snippets of news reports, dictionary entries, and email exchanges between Emma and her increasingly suspicious life partner back home in Pittsburgh. Novey's characters are hilariously impulsive, terribly misguided, hopelessly lost, relentlessly determined, and immediately sympathetic. An incisive meditation on the relationship between literature and life, a reflection on the cumulative result of everyday decisions, and a dazzling, truly memorable work of humor and heart. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Novey, who showed us she could write when her Exit, Civilian was selected for the 2011 National Poetry Series, offers a first novel with a writer at the core. Except that this writer, celebrated Brazilian Beatriz Yagoda, has vanished, having last been seen climbing into an almond tree with a suitcase, and her devoted American translator rushes southward to find out what happened. [Page 53]. (c) Copyright 2015 Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

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 fiancé 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? Agent: P.J. Mark, Janklow & Nesbit Associates. (Feb.) [Page ]. Copyright 2015 PWxyz LLC

Review by Publisher Summary 1

When celebrated Brazilian writer Beatriz Yagoda, who is deep in gambling debt, disappears, Emma, her American translator, flies to Brazil where she and Beatriz’s children conspire to solve the mystery of her disappearance and staunch the colorful demands of her various outstanding affairs. 35,000 first printing.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

When Brazilian novelist Beatriz Yagoda suddenly disappears, her American translator Emma travels to Brazil to solve the mystery while fending off rapacious loan sharks and the washed-up editor who made Yagoda famous.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

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