Ways of Going Home

ways of going home cover image Ways of Going Home

by Alejandro Zambra
General Fiction
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Hardcover, 160 pages
$23.00

At first blush this is a slight book – just 5” x 9” and 160 pages of fairly loose type. But deeper within it is the haunting story of the Pinochet legacy upon the generation of Chileans who were children or yet unborn (as in the case of Zambra) on September 11, 1973. Its four chapters swing back and forth between the “story” and the life of the author writing it. The boy is a 9-year-old living under the dictatorship with his family in a 1980’s suburb of Santiago. He is drawn into a mysterious intrigue by a 12-year-old girl with whom he has become infatuated. The novelist appears in the second chapter and, curiously, his life bears uncanny resemblance to that of the fictional boy. The stories wind themselves around each other and fuse until it is difficult to see where one begins and the other ends. Fundamental is the novelist’s point that, at the deepest level, revision is inherent in every description of one’s past. “That’s why we lie so much in the end," he says.