Lambda Literary: Most Anticipated Book of the Month
A poignant collage of stories of women young and old, this novel from an Alfaguara Prize–winning author explores both the need to be seen and the need to disappear.
In present-day New York, Margarita grapples with insecurities on her fifty-sixth birthday. She feels neglected by her husband, and suspects he’s having an affair with one of his students. Mysteries surrounding two friends offer both a distraction and unexpected insight: Anne, the concierge of her apartment building, has suddenly vanished without a trace, leaving Anne’s mother to confront a long-held secret. Juliana, now in her eighties, is eager to find the woman who changed the course of her life more than sixty years ago. With a seamless blend of reality and fiction, Carla Guelfenbein takes us back to the 1940s to provide answers, drawing on the intimate letters that Chilean poet Gabriela Mistral wrote to her lover and executor, Doris Dana, in the years after their first meeting at Barnard College. Struggling under the weight of Gabriela’s intense attachment, the much younger Doris enjoys a passionate night of sex and alcohol with a childhood friend while they’re apart. Far from the chaste, self-sacrificing image imposed on Mistral after her death because she never married, the characters of One in Me I Never Loved reflect womanhood in all its complexities, challenging the limits on their freedom and sexuality.
About the Author
Carla Guelfenbein studied biology at Essex University. She also studied graphic design at St. Martin’s School of Art in London. Back in Chile she worked as Art director in BBDO, and fashion editor at ELLE. She is the author of the novels El revés del alma, La mujer de mi vida, El resto es silencio, Nadar desnudas, Contigo en la distancia, and a number of short stories which have appeared in important magazines and anthologies. Her work has been translated into 14 languages by the most prestigious editorial houses in Europe. Guelfenbein is one of the last best-selling phenomenas of the Chilean narrative. Her second novel ousted Dan Brown in the top of the ranking. Contigo en la distancia won the important Alfaguara prize, and was simultaneously launched in Spain and Latin America.
Neil Davidson is a newspaper columnist, essayist, and translator. He has published collections of his columns as well as El ceño radiante, a biographical study of Gerard Manley Hopkins with new translations of the poems. Originally from the United Kingdom, he now lives in Chile.
“[Guelfenbein] charms and subverts with her polyphonic puzzle.” —Booklist
“In this kaleidoscopic novel of loves, longings, and disappearances, Carla Guelfenbein brilliantly enfolds mysteries that distances of time and space strive to conceal. It’s a bonus that her writing sparkles. I know of no other nonnative writer since Federico García Lorca who has seen Manhattan with such original precision.” —Todd Gitlin, author of The Sixties
“Friends go missing, lovers are separated, yet Carla Guelfenbein, a writer with a fierce and tender imagination, makes this novel all about presence: the insistent presence of the past, the presence of possibility and hope. Every point of absence generates probing thought and fervent emotions. Guelfenbein has filled her canvas with mesmerizing, intricate life, leaving no blank spaces.” —Joanna Scott, author of The Manikin and Various Antidotes
“In One in Me I Never Loved, Carla Guelfenbein’s stories delicately unravel the mysteries and secrets in the lives of women looking for love and hiding out in the big city. A fascinating study of loneliness and connection.” —Marisel Vera, author of The Taste of Sugar
“A mesmerizing novel that explores women’s quest for identity as well as independence. Using the character of Gabriela Mistral and her companion Doris Dana as the centerpiece, these stories are intertwined with grace and passion. An extraordinary book and a delight to read for its inquisitive nature and audacious perspective.” —Marjorie Agosín, recipient of the Gabriela Mistral Medal of Honor for Lifetime Achievement
Praise for In the Distance with You:
“A marvelous, multi-faceted feat of storytelling.” —BBC Culture
“A stunningly constructed narrative...As absorbing as any mystery.” —Library Journal, Best Books of the Year
“This luminous and eloquent novel will appeal in particular to readers with an interest in Latin American literature.” —Booklist (starred review)
“Fans of literary fiction will enjoy this atmospheric Chilean mystery.” —BookRiot
“The subject of this profound and intricate novel is the irreducible mystery at the core of every person, the buried lines of history and desire that render us inscrutable even to ourselves. Carla Guelfenbein is an important and powerful writer, and this translation is a gift to English-language readers.” —Garth Greenwell, author of What Belongs to You
“Guelfenbein’s elegantly structured, psychologically astute novel moves with the urgency of a detective novel, but its real mysteries turn on questions of authorship, reading, interpretation, and the strange power of fiction to enter the speechless realm of human erotic desire.” —Siri Hustvedt, author of The Blazing World
“Three figures gather around the comatose body of a legendary Latin American writer, trying—in different ways and before it’s too late—to unveil the dying woman’s secrets. With In the Distance with You, Carla Guelfenbein has created a truly thrilling book about books, a novel about the spell great writers cast on either side of the grave.” —Benjamin Moser, author of Why This World: A Biography of Clarice Lispector