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Cover image for Affections
Format:
Title:
Affections
Uniform Title:
Afectos. English
ISBN:
9781501154799

9781501154805
Edition:
First Simon & Schuster hardcover edition.
Publication:
New York : Simon & Schuster, 2017.
Physical Description:
132 pages ; 22 cm
Summary:
"Inspired by real events, Affections is the story of the eccentric, fascinating Ertl clan, headed by the egocentric and extraordinary Hans, once the cameraman for the Nazi propagandist Leni Riefenstahl. Shortly after the end of World War II, Hans and his family flee to Bolivia to start over. There, the ever-restless Hans decides to embark on an expedition in search of the fabled lost Inca city of Paititi, enlisting two of his daughters to join him on his outlandish quest into the depths of the Amazon, with disastrous consequences. Set against the backdrop of the both optimistic and violent 1950s and 1960s, Affections traces the Ertls's slow and inevitable breakdown through the various erratic trajectories of each family member: Hans's undertakings of colossal, foolhardy projects and his subsequent spectacular failures; his daughter Monika, heir to his adventurous spirit, who joins the Bolivian Marxist guerrillas and becomes known as "Che Guevara's avenger"; and his wife and two younger sisters left to pick up the pieces in their wake. In this short but powerful work, Hasbún weaves a masterfully layered tale of how a family's voyage of discovery ends up eroding the affections that once held it together"-- Provided by publisher.

"A haunting novel about an unusual family's breakdown--set in South America during the time of Che Guevara and based on the life of Third Reich cinematographer Hans Ertl"-- Provided by publisher.
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Library
Call Number
Status
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Hasbun
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Hasbun, R.
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FIC HASBUN
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Summary

Summary

A haunting novel about an unusual family's breakdown--set in South America during the time of Che Guevara and inspired by the life of Third Reich cinematographer Hans Ertl--from the literary star Jonathan Safran Foer calls, "a great writer."

Inspired by real events, Affections is the story of the eccentric, fascinating Ertl clan, headed by the egocentric and extraordinary Hans, once the cameraman for the Nazi propagandist Leni Riefenstahl. Shortly after the end of World War II, Hans and his family flee to Bolivia to start over. There, the ever-restless Hans decides to embark on an expedition in search of the fabled lost Inca city of Paitití, enlisting two of his daughters to join him on his outlandish quest into the depths of the Amazon, with disastrous consequences.

Set against the backdrop of the both optimistic and violent 1950s and 1960s, Affections traces the Ertls's slow and inevitable breakdown through the various erratic trajectories of each family member: Hans's undertakings of colossal, foolhardy projects and his subsequent spectacular failures; his daughter Monika, heir to his adventurous spirit, who joins the Bolivian Marxist guerrillas and becomes known as "Che Guevara's avenger"; and his wife and two younger sisters left to pick up the pieces in their wake. In this short but powerful work, Hasbún weaves a masterfully layered tale of how a family's voyage of discovery ends up eroding the affections that once held it together.


Author Notes

Rodrigo Hasbún is a Bolivian novelist living and working in Houston. In 2007, he was selected by the Hay Festival as one of the best Latin American writers under the age of thirty-nine for Bogotá39, and in 2010 he was named one of Granta 's Best Young Spanish-Language Novelists. He is the author of a previous novel and a collection of short stories, two of which have been made into films, and his work has appeared in Granta , McSweeney's , Zoetrope: All-Story , Words Without Borders , and elsewhere. Affections received an English PEN Award and has been published in twelve languages.

Sophie Hughes has translated novels by several contemporary Latin American and Spanish authors, including award-winning Laia Jufresa and Rodrigo Hasbún. Her translations and writing have been published in The Guardian , The Times Literary Supplement , Literary Hub , and The White Review , among others. In 2017 Sophie was awarded a PEN/Heim Translation Fund Grant.


Reviews 5

Publisher's Weekly Review

The Ertl family produced two infamous members whose lives are fictionalized in Hasbún's moody and spare novel. Hans Ertl was a famous Nazi cinematographer exiled to Bolivia after World War II, where he became obsessed with finding the Lost City of Paititi. His eldest daughter, Monika, who accompanied him on an expedition to find the mythological land, married into a wealthy family before becoming radicalized, joining the Marxist revolutionary movement, and becoming a guerilla fighter. All of this is known as fact, but through his measured and oddly ethereal writing (reminiscent somewhat of Paulo Coelho), Hasbún creates a sort of double exposure of the Ertl family's slow demise over the upheaval roiling through South America. The impact of Hans's restlessness on his family-his three daughters and their mother-frames the narrative, which unfolds through multiple points of view. Somehow, it is Trixi, the sister who stayed behind with her mother while the rest of the family sought Paititi, whose staid narrative provides the most powerful moments: from her unhappy, cancerous mother deliberately introducing her to cigarettes at age 12, to the devastating paragraph in which Monika corrects Trixi's naive belief that her older sister's lover died accidentally: "They kicked his spine until it snapped." This is an inventive, powerful novel. (Sept.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Kirkus Review

A German family heads to Bolivia after World War II, sparking decades of internal strife amid political revolution.Hasbn's brisk, sensitive U.S. debut is a fictionalized story of the Ertl clan, which emigrated to escape the ruins and political embarrassments of Nazism. (Patriarch Hans worked as an assistant to propagandist Leni Riefenstahl.) But Hans' dream of exploring a new land absent politics slowly erodes. Central to that shift is his daughter Monika, who, after a failed marriage, joins Che Guevara's revolutionaries; "she felt that she had at last found her place in the world." Her decision, and the violence that follows it, creates a blast radius around the rest of the family, especially her sisters, Trixi and Heidi. But though Hasbn's narrative is rooted in politics, its key strengths are his remarkable command of time and characterization. The novel is short but gallops across a half-century's worth of transformations in Bolivia, and sections narrated by individual characters are marked by a surprising depth of emotional detail given the story's brevity. Reinhard, the brother of Monika's husband, can't reconcile "the intriguing Monika from the early days with the impossible Monika later on." Heidi describes the disoriented family as like "soldiers searching for a war, or interplanetary beings," while Trixi laments the "doses of horror" that Monika's radicalization created; Monika herself hardens over time, becoming someone with "no emotion, no memory." More detail about each of these characters would be welcome; the book feels at times like an epic historical saga that's been cut down to size by an especially aggressive editor. But in stripping down the story to its barest essence, Hasbn has intensified the effects of each individual scene; the volumes' worth of drama contained in the family's life emerge by suggestion and implication. A one-sitting tale of fragmented relationships with a broad scope, delivered with grace and power. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Booklist Review

*Starred Review* In his English-language debut, Bolivian novelist Hasbún weaves together a fictional tale about a real-life family struggling to find stability in a world of shifting ideologies and relationships. In the aftermath of WWII, the Ertls emigrate from Germany to Bolivia, settling in La Paz, where they live in relative bliss. That is, until the family patriarch, Hans, once the cameraman for a Nazi filmmaker, sets out with a video camera and two of his three daughters to find the lost Amazonian city of Paitití. They fail, and when they return home, the family's disintegration is underway. Hans' ambitious daughter Monika falls in with Che Guevara's Marxist guerrillas, quickly rising up the ranks. Lovestruck Heidi just wants to marry and return to Munich. Trixi, the youngest, appears to be following in the fateful steps of their sickly mother, a heavy smoker who dies early. The story unfolds through the perspectives of Hans' daughters and other narrators, spanning more than a decade at a quick pace which belies the fact that Hasbún writes with patience and precision, revealing the family's most intimate thoughts and interactions: first smokes, blind love, and familial devotion. This is a novel to savor for its richness and grace and its historical and political scope.--Fullmer, Jonathan Copyright 2017 Booklist


New York Review of Books Review

This slim, striking novel recounts the bizarre story, in poignant shimmering flashes and the subtle interstices separating those flashes, of the Ertl family as imagined by Hasbún. Hans Ertl, Leni Riefenstahl's star cameraman "but hardly a model father," is forced to start anew in Bolivia after the war. When we meet them in 1955, his wife and three daughters have already been in La Paz for a year and a half, and the family's visionary patriarch is about to embark on yet another filming expedition, this time searching for the ancient Incan city of Paitití. He recruits his two older daughters, Monika and Heidi, in the service of his doomed chimera, while young Trixi stays home and learns to smoke cigarettes with her mother, who is already ill with the disease that will soon take her life. It is Trixi who clings to the idea of the Ertl family the longest, while Heidi repatriates and Monika - "the ex-depressive, the quasi-Bolivian" - sets out on a path into die-hard militancy with the National Liberation Army, becoming known as Che Guevara's avenger after killing Toto Quintanilla. Strange and tragic as the Ertls' story is, they are revealed here as also just a family, with a sole parent they have little choice but to support and hope to depend on. Hasbún's anti-expository prose is very effective, with fine details like the "dinner of tortillas and sauerkraut" they eat on their way into the rain forest, and the "poster of Lake Titicaca on the wall" at the Bolivian consulate in Hamburg before Monika fires her Colt Cobra. His kaleidoscopic, enigmatic style veers slightly into the cryptic in the italicized epilogue, in which the two Bolivian brothers hired by Hans to dig a grave are set against the image of "the German," eating straight out of tin cans and with dogs as his only companions, his hacienda already a nostalgic tomb lined with the "20 or so photos on the wall that summed up their lives." Hasbún offers a suggestive rendering of a certain potent artistic drive that is often incompatible with fatherhood, notwithstanding Hans's talent for reinvention.


Library Journal Review

One of Granta's 22 Best of Young Spanish-Language Novelists, Bolivian-born, Texas-based Hasbún makes his English-language debut. In Part 1, set in the late 1950s, -ex-Nazi filmmaker Hans Ertl moves with his family to Bolivia and embarks on an expedition to unearth a lost Incan city in the Amazon jungle. Accompanied by his two older daughters and two scientists, he finds some ruins but immolates their base camp. Part 2 jumps ahead to the decade of the Marxist guerrilla warfare ravaging the country. Hans's wife has died, and daughters Monika, Heidi, and Trixi have gone their separate ways. Most notably, the oldest, Monika joins the Marxist Resistance with disastrous results. This relatively brief novel is split among seven narrators (with the daughters' voices repeating), and the fast pacing and sparse narration mean a greater focus on events than on development of the characters. The ironic title reflects the lack of real affection among the characters, save perhaps for their quixotic causes. -VERDICT Tracing the progress of two generations of a dysfunctional Bolivian family set during a violent historical period, this novel captures events in a country largely unfamiliar to most American readers. [See Prepub Alert, 3/13/17.]-Lawrence Olszewski, North Central State Coll., Mansfield, OH © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.