Translated from the Spanish by Megan McDowell
“Latin America’s new literary star” (The New Yorker), Alejandro Zambra is celebrated around the world for his strikingly original, slyly funny, daringly unconventional fiction. Now, at the height of his powers, Zambra returns with his most audaciously brilliant book yet.
Written in the form of a standardized test, Multiple Choice invites the reader to respond to virtuoso language exercises and short narrative passages through multiple-choice questions that are thought-provoking, usually unanswerable, and often absurd. It offers a new kind of reading experience, one in which the reader participates directly in the creation of meaning, and the nature of storytelling itself is called into question. At once funny, poignant, and political, Multiple Choice is about love and family, authoritarianism and its legacies, and the conviction that, rather than learning to think for ourselves, we are trained to obey and repeat. Serious in its literary ambition and playful in its execution, it confirms Alejandro Zambra as one of the most important writers working in any language.
About the author
Alejandro Zambra is the author of My Documents, which was a finalist for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award, and three previous novels: Ways of Going Home, The Private Lives of Trees, and Bonsai. His books have been translated into more than ten languages and have received several international prizes. His stories have appeared in the New Yorker, the Paris Review, Harper’s, Tin House, and McSweeney’s, among others. In 2010, he was named one of Granta’s Best Young Spanish-Language Novelists, and he is a 2015–16 Cullman Center fellow at the New York Public Library. He teaches literature at Diego Portales University, in Santiago, Chile.
An experimental novel presented as a test form – the mimicry of the Verbal Aptitude Test. Thus the text of the novel is a number of formally disconnected texts which build up and into artistic unity the author and critics call a novel for the lack of any other apt term. The translation seems to be most flexible in rendering the rich allusions and multi-layered structure of the original. It may well be that this piece signifies the emergence of a new form in Latin American fiction.