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Do you love Spanish-language literature? Thinking about reading the 60 novels of Argentinian author César Aira, but don’t know how to get started? We interrupt summer to bring you Ana Schwartz’s essay, “The Little Estancias”, a delightful survey of Aira’s works, as well as a review of his latest novel, Conversations, just published by New Directions Press in a translation by Katherine Silver.

One could do worse. The novels are a thrilling, if often unbelievably weird, introduction to Argentinean history and culture, as well as people and places around the world. Settings and also plots vary rather fantastically. Many of the novels take place in contemporary Argentina, or the pampas of the southern cone. Some transpire elsewhere, in other historical periods—a conference in Mexico City, for example, or the bustling Panama City of the nineteenth century. The works show a commitment to pan-Latinidad, but just as frequently offers a wider international perspective: that of a German painter, for example, an English naturalist, or a Hollywood actor pretending to pretend to be a Ukrainian—!—goatherd. The decorative coffee table book describes the land through its history of territorial settlement, but the novels, which are more interested in human mobility, in the speed and transience brought by globalization.…”

Check it out today, on Cleaver.


ana-schwartzAna Schwartz is a Ph.D. candidate in the English Department at the University of Pennsylvania, specializing in early American Literature and historical accounts of genre. She’s active on campus at Penn, participating in various leadership capacities in organizations from the Latin American Graduate and Professional Student Association to the Career Services Social Media Advisory board; she checks in regularly at the Kelly Writer’s House and writes prose sonnets at tumblr.