A Practical Guide to Levitation: Stories (Paperback)
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Perfect for readers of Haruki Murakami, Julio Cortázar, and Namwali Serpell’s The Old Drift
Vividly translated into English for the first time by long-time Agualusa collaborator Daniel Hahn, the jewel-like tales gathered in this collection are an exuberant celebration of story-telling in all its various forms.
On the sands of Itamaracá, an old fisherman dreams of fish: shad in the morning, when the water’s smooth and silvery, the Atlantic tarpon after it rains, and a jack when the sea goes blue. Elsewhere, Borges sulks away in a plantation of neverending banana tree, and the president of the United States wakes from a coma speaking only Portuguese.
With “the lyrical experimentalism and unabashed weirdness of the surrealist” (The Arts Desk), Agualusa offers a sly wink to the fictional quality inherent in all narratives, whether they’re fishermen’s tales, national histories, or the stories we tell ourselves.
Daniel Hahn is a writer, editor, and translator. He is the author of several works of non-fiction, including the history book The Tower Menagerie. He is the editor of The Oxford Companion to Children's Literature and one of the editors of The Ultimate Book Guide, a series of reading guides for children and teenagers. His translations (from Portuguese, Spanish, and French) include fiction from Africa, Europe, and Latin America.
"A Practical Guide to Levitation brings together thirty of José Eduardo Aguaulusa’s short stories, some written just last year and some so old he doesn’t remember writing them. Naturally, there is a real variety to be found here . . . Agualusa’s literary idols pop us as characters . . . The stories . . . are brought together by abstract and metaphysical topics, with the backdrop of colonization and civil war everpresent." – Colm McKenna, New Pages
"When a collection opens with a story called “Borges in Hell,” you might expect to have an idea of the book’s contents. And yes, this does begin with a tale of a certain influential writer realizing that he is in the wrong afterlife—establishing concepts of metaphysics, surrealism, and literary history that run throughout the book. But these stories also vary dramatically in tone, from stark realism to trips into the satirical uncanny. It’s a memorable showcase of one writer’s range." – Tobias Carroll, Words Without Borders
"Agualusa’s amused take on eccentric behaviors and unaccountable obsesssions – his tone of momentary acceptance of the weird or uncanny in ordinary encounters – reminds me of the crónica genre in Spanish- and Portuguese-language newspapers . . . From beginning to end, each story here sparkles with wit, empathy, and blunt honesty. " – Ron Slate, On the Seawall