Thomas Bernhard in San Salvador
New Directions, 9780811225397, 128pp.
Publication Date: July 26, 2016
The 1997 novel that put Horacio Castellanos Moya on the map, now published for the first time in English
An expatriate professor, Vega, returns from exile in Canada to El Salvador for his mother’s funeral. A sensitive idealist and an aggrieved motor mouth, he sits at a bar with the author, Castellanos Moya, from five to seven in the evening, telling his tale and ranting against everything his country has to offer. Written in a single paragraph and alive with a fury as astringent as the wrath of Thomas Bernhard, Revulsion was first published in 1997 and earned its author death threats. Roberto Bolano called Revulsion Castellanos Moya’s darkest book and perhaps his best: “A parody of certain works by Bernhard and the kind of book that makes you laugh out loud.”
About the Author
Lee Klein’s fiction, essays, reviews, and translations have appeared in various publications. His novel The Shimmering Go-Between was published in 2014 by Atticus Books.
Praise For Revulsion: Thomas Bernhard in San Salvador…
— Michael LaPointe
Castellanos Moya has turned anxiety into an art form and an act of rebellion, and redeemed paranoia as a positive indicator of rot.
— Natasha Wimmer
Acid humor, like a Buster Keaton movie or a time bomb.
— Roberto Bolaño
An intense writer, whose short novels take fierce satiric hold of a fictional concept and squeeze and squeeze.
— James Wood
A welcome eye-opening addition to this new literature of the Latin American nightmare.
— Anderson Tepper
Humor amid the madness and evil. Don’t let the breezy, often funny and frequently irreverent tone fool you.
— John Greenya
Even nineteen years on, the book’s atmosphere of exasperated rage feels itchy, jagged, and real.
From a political perspective, Revulsion has a lot to teach us… It may be a gift, and it is very comforting, but lonely anger won’t help you in the end.
Operating as both a parody and a darkly funny, explosive rant of a man who detests his homeland, it’s a blistering novella that satisfies the darkness clouding the cynical side of our souls.
Through imitation, a hybrid gem of fiction is born.
— Mark Haber
A tribute and a parody as well as an original voice.
Best read in a single sitting to indulge the ranting invective in all of its uninterrupted and visceral glory, Revulsion is, at once, literary homage, political/cultural harangue, exemplification of storytelling's inherent power, and a damn fine, entertaining novel. Castellanos Moya's fiction, never ever well-suited for those in need of enlivening, hums with frenetic energy; a foreboding din both jarring and ruthless.
A scathing, electric, brief novel, an unrelenting diatribe taking aim at everything… Castellanos Moya masterfully lays out the entrails of a country gutted by corruption and war.
Moya brings his readers to the center, dares them to reconcile the narrative rant before their eyes with the author’s cheeky assertion that this rant is the one approved for a more general, more delicate audience... Moya is as whip smart as any of them, and as pissed off; and the reader would do well to read carefully, lest they feel the lash of his well-earned condescension.